Much has been made of Larry Rothschild’s dismissal from the New York Yankees. He is heralded as one of the best pitching coaches in baseball, so why would he get the pink slip?
Simple. Because he wasn’t as good as you thought he was.
Look at it from this perspective, in the NFL, when the offense is struggling, the offensive coordinator is first to go over the head coach. So just HOW good was Larry Rothschild in the eight seasons he’s been the Yankees’ pitching coach?
Pitching coaches are meant to help the whole pitching staff, and our team pitching staff was mediocre at best. According to ESPN, the team ERA for the New York Yankees last season was 4.31. This includes the “best bullpen in baseball.” That put Yankees pitching 14th in baseball. The Mets had a better team ERA than we did. We’re the Yankees! We’re supposed to be the best team in baseball! Our pitchers had the 11th best batting average against, sitting at just shy of .250. Do you know how bad the Cincinnati Reds were? They were the 5th worst team in the National League. Their pitching staff’s BAA was sitting at .235 compared to our .248. Cincinnati finished fourth in all of baseball in this category, and they missed the playoffs! The Yankees’ staff gave up 739 runs, and 691 of those runs were earned runs. The Mets pitching staff gave up fewer runs and fewer earned runs. Our rotation also had a combined WHIP that was tied for the San Francisco Giants, a team that finished 15 games under .500.
What I think is most telling are the number of quality starts, and innings pitched the Yankees staff threw in 2019. Yankees were 18th in baseball in regards to quality starts. Our pitching staff was also 14th in total innings pitched for the season. A common trope about the Yankees when the ALCS ended was, “You can’t expect your team to win when your bullpen is forced to get 15-18 outs a game”.
Tanaka averaged just shy of 6 innings a game in 2019. Happ, at 161 innings pitched, averaged a half-inning fewer than Tanaka. Paxton, who started two fewer games than Happ, through 11 fewer innings than Happ. German, one of the league leaders in wins, threw 143.
Even with him missing his last 3-5 starts, he still pitched the deepest into games out of the other 3. And we all saw what CC could and couldn’t do. His injuries limited him to 107 innings, limiting him to 4.5 innings pitched per appearance. (baseball-reference.com). This is not a great starting pitching staff.
The more the bullpen needs to be used, the less effective they become. It happened to Ottavino at the worst possible time. Chad Green had to become a starter to figure out what was wrong with him this season? He still finished with an EAR above 4. Tommy Kahnle still had an ERA above 3.50, which isn’t particularly proficient for a relief pitcher.
Our bullpen has been overworked, and our starting pitchers aren’t getting us deep into games. If you use your eyes, this has been the case for Rothschild as pitching coach for the last 3-5 seasons. I mean, hell, how long did Sonny Grey last per start as a Yankee? Something has to give with our pitching staff as a whole. It had to start with Larry Rothschild. Statistics and eye tests don’t lie. Rothschild had to go. It was time.