Yankees’ pitching coach discusses plans for the rotation

matt blake, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have managed to build an impressive collection of talent in their rotation. Behind proven ace Gerrit Cole, they have newcomers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon, returning Domingo German, plus homegrown starters Jordan Montgomery, German, Deivi Garcia, and Clarke Schmidt.

However, there is just no way to deny that more than half of those guys are severe injury risks. Kluber has suffered a litany of injuries in the last two years, while Taillon, German, Schmidt, Montgomery, and German are all Tommy John surgery survivors.

Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake is well aware of the risk attached to the group as a whole. In a conversation with Sweeny Murti of WFAN, he talked about the subject at lenght.

The Yankees, according to Murti, will need between 800 and 900 innings from their starters in 2021.

“Obviously there are certain guys like Cole, you know he knows what it’s like to take the ball every fifth or sixth day and get 180 to 200 innings,” Blake said.

What to expect from the Yankees’ new guys

Kluber may have only pitched 36 2/3 frames in the last two seasons, but he was a workhorse before that, topping 200 in five consecutive years.

“I think the hard part is you don’t want to just go in blind and say we’re going to get 200 innings from all these guys,” Blake said. “That’s not realistic.”

When asked whether expecting around 150 innings from Kluber in 2021, the Yankees’ coach said “that’s probably somewhat reasonable”.

With Taillon, the 150 threshold should again serve as a good benchmark, but it may be lower or higher depending on how the pitcher is feeling. He is coming from his second Tommy John procedure.

“I think you just kind of add and subtract based on if they’re going deeper in games or getting out early, or if they need to skip a start or something,” Blake noted. “I think it’s just being rational and realistic about where these guys are coming from, and knowing that their most value is going to come if we can get to a point where we’re playing in October.”

The Yankees, if they want to keep everyone healthy come playoffs time, will need to get creative and use their depth: Garcia, Schmidt, Nick Nelson, Michael King, Nestor Cortes, Jhoulys Chacin, or Asher Wojciechowski could find themselves starting a game or two.

“I think there’s a volume of arms that can kind of pick up some innings in bunches,” Blake said. “I think it’s just trying to figure out in what order does that happen and how many times in a row do they take the ball.”