Spring Training doesn’t begin till next week, but questions already surround the New York Yankees pitching staff. And when James Paxton and Domingo German each return to the Yankees around the All-Star game (realistically), how do you get them to bring their A-game right out the gate, after not pitching most of the season? This is where Matt Blake’s inexperience could bite him, and the Yankees, in the butt.
Don’t Think Analytics Makes Him Better Than Rothschild
I felt Larry Rothschild wasn’t as good of a pitching coach as everyone wanted you to believe. When the bullpen was right, the starters were off, and vice versa. Look at last season. There were painfully long stretches where our starting rotation was garbage, and our bullpen was what kept us in the game. Then, when the bullpen was able to rest because the starting rotation got itself right, the key players in the pen before Otta, Britton, and Chapman floundered.
Part of what sold Gerrit Cole on coming to the New York Yankees was Matt Blake’s sales pitch about his analytical approach to helping pitchers pitch better. If you don’t think Larry Rothschild didn’t have that same information, you’re in denial. Spin rate on a breaking pitch isn’t going to help Tanaka get through 5 on a day he just doesn’t have it. And he’s been losing it more and more as his career in pinstripes progresses.
How Much Will the Other Pitchers Accept Blake’s Approach?
Part of Blake’s success is going to be how much the other pitchers respond to Blake’s coaching. Cole is open to it, and Montgomery is probably going to take what Blake is teaching and run with it. But what about Severino, Tanaka, Happ, and Paxton? Just because he’s their coach doesn’t mean what he teaches them is going to work for them. Mariano Rivera isn’t shy about admitting then pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyer, tried to get him to abandon the cutter. Happ is about 5 years older than Blake, and seen success. Who’s to say Happ doesn’t lead a revolt against neglecting Blake’s coaching the first sign things look bad for our fragile rotation? Who’s to say Blake’s teaching doesn’t result in Cole needing Tommy John? As I said, we’re already down 2 in the rotation. And when they get back, how fast can Blake get them up to speed?
All of the questions that STILL surround the Yankees rotation may be too much for this 34-year-old. I hope it doesn’t, but, let’s just see.