Why the New York Yankees had to replace Larry Rothschild

New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild

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.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone mistake costs Yankees game 2 of ALCS

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees fell to the Houston Astros 3-2 in the 11th inning on Sunday night in game two of the ALCS. The Bombers started off the contest with a Judgian blast, which gave them a 2-1 lead; however, right fielder for the Astros, George Springer, took advantage of a bad Aaron Boone mistake.

After starter James Paxton was pulled from the game after just 2.1 innings, relief option Chad Green dominated for two innings, allowing zero walks and striking out two batters. Boone elected to pull him in the fourth inning with two outs in favor of Adam Ottavino, who was stellar during the regular season.

The very first pitch Ottavino threw resulted in a long home run that tied the game at two apiece. Faulting Boone for this consequence of changing pitchers is an easy excuse, but the lack of offense was the primary cause of the unfortunate loss.

The New York Yankees offense was awful in game two:

Catcher Gary Sanchez went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, not to mention Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Gardner’s combined five strikeouts. The middle of the order accounted for eight of twelve Ks on the night, an unacceptable rate that must change if the Yankees are to take back the lead at home in the Bronx.

The Yankees will face off against Gerrit Cole in game three on Tuesday afternoon, and that might be the biggest challenge yet in their quest to reach the World Series. Cole had a 2.50 ERA during the regular season, and during the playoffs, he is sitting at 0.57 over two starts. He has only allowed six hits over 15.2 innings. Beating him will require a much better effort from the offense, and Yankees ace Luis Severino will need to match his quality at home.

Ultimately, it will likely boil down to the bullpen and which unit can weather the storm better. The Bombers did a decent job in game two, but pitching is only half of the battle.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone’s pitching plan for the postseason is “untraditional”

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said that the team will play by their own rules come October. Since the Yankees have been plagued with injuries all season, Boone plans to work many games being a little creative.

“We’re going to be a little untraditional,” said Boone. “The only one we might use as a traditional starter is (James) Paxton.

Paxton has been on fire recently for the Yankees after a hiccup earlier in the season. The left-hander has won his last nine consecutive starts and has a 14-6 record. The most dominant start he’s had this month came against the Texas Rangers where he went seven full frames allowing one hit and fanning 12.

The New York Yankees intend to utilize the “opener” strategy for the postseason. Their primary opener will most likely be Chad Green, who’s been overall dominate in that role.

Domingo German, who’s been a starter all season, is planned to follow the opener if they choose to go that route. He’s also expected to fill a variety of roles, potentially being used as a traditional starter as well.

Luis Severino will most likely do the same thing German is doing. He’s intended to work up his pitch count and innings during the month of September.

CC Sabathia is likely not going to return as a starter, but potentially in the bullpen. He clearly cannot go the distance consistently, which is key for the playoffs. However, Sabathia can still get guys out so the New YorkYankees will still look to get him innings.

How the New York Yankees could use Luis Severino during the postseason

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

When it comes to starting pitcher Luis Severino for the New York Yankees, he might not be up to speed once the postseason rolls around.

Chances are, he won’t have had enough work to pitch 6/7 innings comfortably. In his first minor-league rehab assignment, he was batted around a bit despite striking out several hitters yet received high marks from the opposing team. He had a solid command of his pitches and was able to test different things out that he hadn’t before.

Here’s what some of the opposing hitters had to say, according to NJ.com:

“Obviously, his fastball had some life on it,” said Buffalo center fielder Anthony Alford. “Against me, I thought he was missing up a little bit, but after that, he settled in and hit the strike zone. I thought he looked pretty good.”

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The Yankees could use a new philosophy that they’ve exercised this season with Severino during the playoffs. Similar to how they’ve used Chad Green this year, as an opener, the Yankees ace could fill that role and set up the regular starters.

On Wednesday night, the Yankees used Green as their opener; they then brought on Louis Cessa and several other right-handers who tossed five shut out innings before Adam Ottavino took over.

Once Dellin Betances returns, the Yankees bullpen will be stacked full of talent and quality. Adam Ottavino currently has a 1.66 ERA with 80 strikeouts, and just 40 hits over 59.2 innings pitched. He has been quietly one of the Yankees best off-season signings and will be a catalyst for the bullpen during the playoffs. However, the starting pitching could be a problem considering the injuries and lack of consistency from the unit. Severino offers them an extremely talented option to open games and take the pressure off of the starters in the first inning or two.

Would this be a good idea? Absolutely. The Yankees do not want to overuse Severino early on in his come back. Without a full season’s work, the Yankees cannot rely on him to go five innings or more. I like him in the opening role because he can confuse batters and be efficient early on. This will allow the Yankees to put runs on the board early and swing the momentum in their favor.

New York Yankees: Who will be the most influential bullpen arm during the playoffs?

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees are heading towards the playoffs and require more pitching support, which is where Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery will make their mark.

Montgomery, who has missed the entire season up to this point, will be a massive addition for the playoffs given his ability to feature as a bullpen arm and supplement the injury to CC Sabathia. With the veteran suffering from knee inflammation, Jordan will provide the Yankees value in regards to injuries and fatigue.

You could make the argument that Betances will be even more impactful, despite suffering from a shoulder impingement injury. With a 2.70 ERA last season, the Yankees relief pitcher could be exactly what they need in the bullpen to grind out wins and help the starters finish games.

However, I believe that Montgomery will be the more valuable player given his diversity and the multiple roles he can play. He also adds a lefty arm to the grouping. Recovering from Tommy John surgery will limit his usage, essentially ruling him out as a consistent starter, but he could serve as a potential opener.

How the New York Yankees could use their injured pitchers differently:

Both Mongomery and Luis Severino could be utilized in the opener role, similar to Chad Green in the regular season, minimizing their usage and allowing them to take the team two/three innings before bringing in a starter. While experimenting with that utilization might not be the best idea during the playoffs, it could certainly work, unless the Yankees feel that they’re better of suited for the bullpen.

Stretching out two pitchers who haven’t tossed pitches at all this season at the top level is not a good idea, which leaves the Bombers with only two options — opening or coming in as relief options. Manager Aaron Boone could surely use the help in that facet as Nestor Cortes Jr., Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, and Luis Cessa have struggled at times. Adding Jordan to the group would make them dangerous, heading into the elimination rounds.

New York Yankees: Chad Green Struggles as Yankees Lose Big

The New York Yankees have used the bullpen-game strategy several times to which has been mostly successful, except Thursday night against the Cleveland Indians. Chad Green opened the game where he only lasted a quarter of an inning allowing five runs. Jose Ramirez slugged a 98 mph fastball from Green over the centerfield fence for a grand slam. The next batter Jason Kipnis hit one 374 feet for back-to-back home runs.

Green has been predominately one of the New York Yankees’ best bullpen arms. After a short slump at the beginning of the season, Green has shown dominance except for his start Thursday night. Prior to last night’s game, the Yankees were undefeated when starting a bullpen arm.

The night didn’t begin well for the Yanks. They didn’t get out of the first inning until it was 7-0. Then Indians proceeded to slug seven home runs and 24 hits. First basemen Mike Ford made his MLB pitching debut, where he was a two-way player in college at Princeton. However, his experience didn’t do him well as he allowed five runs with two bombs. After the night was over, the Indians beat the Yankees 19-4 (Sheesh).

These games happen, you can’t win every one. Every fan doesn’t want to see the opposing team put up 19 runs, but the pitching just got away from them tonight. This happens to every team during the season. The Yankees will take on the Indians in a rematch tomorrow in the Bronx at 7:05 PM EST.

Hey, at least the Yankees’ no-shutout streak continues!

The biggest concern for the New York Yankees after the trade deadline

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

The New York Yankees primary struggle has been with the starting pitching rotation. J.A. Happ struggled against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, allowing six runs over 5.0 innings pitched. This has been a frequent occurrence for the once trustworthy pitcher.

Having several others on the injured list including CC Sabathia and Luis Severino have limited the success of the rotation as a whole. However, the Yankees have won eight of their last nine games after the July 31 trade deadline.

While the starting rotation has struggled this season, the Yankees might be in for a significant hurdle in regards to their relief pitching. The over usage of the relievers could cause issues down the road with fatigue. The Yankees have relied on the relievers to supplement the deficiencies of the starters.

Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Aroldis Chapman have all been frequent fliers this season on the mound.

Ultimately, the Bombers need their starters to go more innings and produce more quality performance is to ensure that their relievers don’t take the brunt of the damage. Hopefully, they will see the return of Dellin Betances this season as well as Severino, their primary ace. While there is no specific timetable for return, it is expected they will make their debut at some point before the playoffs would be ideal since the quality of teams they will face will elevate exponentially.

Severino has finally begun pitching off amount, five months after learning he would miss a majority of the 2019 regular season. If he can re-join the team and succeed it could give a boost to the other starters who have been picking up the slack in his absence.

Additionally, there have been reports of Yankees minor-league star Deivi Garcia being called up to the majors to help as a relief option. General manager Brian Cashman stated that Garcia would not be used in a starting role to do his inexperience. He can contribute in the bullpen, though.

New York Yankees: What Chad Green means to the Yankees

New York Yankees, Chad Green

The New York Yankees are known to have the best bullpen in baseball. Behind Chapman, Britton, Ottavino, Green, Cessa, and Hale, the staff holds the third lowest ERA among every team at 3.76, just behind Tampa Bay and Cleveland. A big reason why the Yankees hold that is because of Chad Green.

After his rocky start to the season and tune-up in Scranton, he has been dominating hitters. In the months of May, June, and July, he has only allowed six earned runs in 28.2 innings pitched. In that time, he has fanned 41 hitters while only walking four (Baseball Reference).

Green has taken on the “opener” role when the Yankees choice to use that strategy in some series. Among those eight games that Green has started, he has allowed just three earned runs over 11.2 innings while fanning 19. Another notable fact – the Yankees are currently undefeated in each game that Green has opened. The reason why Green might be so successful in the opener role is because he was primarily a starter when he began his professional career.

Part of the reason why Green is having so much success is because of his control of his pitches. Everyone knows free 90s means runs given up. Green has only allowed eight walks this season, which shows why his ERA has improved in the last three months. Take a look at this chart from Fan Graphs, you can see how consistent he is in the zone.

Green’s 2019 ERA might not show the dominance and effect he has had on the Yankees’ success this year. Part of the reason why it is high is because of his early season struggles. However, he is someone that manager Aaron Boone knows that will come in and throw strikes. And with how the Yankees swing the bat, as long as they get the outs they need, they will win ballgames.

New York Yankees: The Man Behind A Lot Of The Bullpen Success

New York Yankees, Chad Green

The New York Yankees have had a dominant bullpen this year, and a lot of the success is attributed to a man that we barely know. Meet Tommy Phelps, the pitching coach for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders.

Phelps has had an enormous impact on the Yankees bullpen this year. He has worked with Nestor Cortes Jr., David Hale, and Steven Tarpley and all three have pitched great in the majors.

Cortes Jr. has pitched 37 and 1/3 innings for the Yankees this year, and has a 4.34 ERA and a 3-0 record. He has often seen several innings of work in bullpen games to transition from the starter (Chad Green) to high leverage guys.

Speaking of Green, Phelps also fixed Chad Green after an awful start to the season. After an ERA of over 16.00 at the end of April, Green has bounced back and has only given up two runs since the end of May.

David Hale has had a breakout season in 2019, and has even seen some high leverage situations. He is also 3-0, and his ERA is just 2.23 over 32 and 1/3 innings.

Stephen Tarpley has an ERA over 7.00, but has emerged as a cheat code to lefties. Lefties have just a .059 average against Tarpley, while righties bat almost .400 against him. Pitching to righties needs to improve, but Tarpley dominates against lefty-heavy lineups.

Jonathan Holder also got off to an awful start to 2019, and is currently in AAA to get fixed like did. He has pitched well of late for the Railriders, and we may see Holder back in the Yankee bullpen soon.

Tommy Phelps has done a fantastic job with pitchers in AAA this season, and his impact has been significantly felt on the Yankees this year.

New York Yankees: Jonathan Holder Optioned to AAA

New York Yankees, Jonathan Holder

There have only been four Yankee pitchers in club history to allow 5+ earned runs and 5+ hits while getting zero outs. Jonathan Holder has done it twice.

It is no secret that Holder has struggled this season. In his last seven games, Holder has thrown six innings and is credited to a 19.50 ERA. Last night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees were holding a 10-3 lead and decided to bring in Holder. Five batters later, it was a 10-7 game. Holder allowed two home runs, one of them being a grand-slam.

Following Monday’s game Holder met with media saying, “My breaking ball hasn’t been consistent, and I haven’t been able to come through in big jams. I haven’t been able to execute pitches in a timely manner.” While being asked about maintaining confidence Holder said, “It’s tough, it’s frustrating. It’s not fun, but, just keep working everyday and I got to realize every time I go out one pitch at a time and just execute.”

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Following Monday’s match up against the Blue Jays, Holder was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Earlier in the season, Chad Green, struggled and figured it out down in triple-A. Yankee fans hope to see Holder do the same.