The Yankees have only one pitching coach left in the organization. The “New School” is in. What is it, and where will it take the team?
The Yankees have dismissed all of their pitching coaches since season’s end. This includes Larry Rothschild, who has served as the Yankees pitching coach since 2011. Only Tommy Phelps has been retained in his position with the Triple-A Scranton Railriders. Replacements to fill four openings have not yet been named.
While the Yankees were effusive in their praise of Rothschild, who has one year remaining on his contract, the team made it clear they are moving in a new direction with regards to the development of pitchers in their system.
In a statement released by Aaron Boone, he noted that “seeing him (Rothschild) work day after day, I have a deep appreciation for how devoted he was to his craft and how tirelessly he dove into his responsibilities.”
Which is another way of saying – we appreciate the effort but not the results? – and anything you did for Domingo German, James Paxton (convincing him to use his curveball more), Chad Green – we thank you, but we’re moving on.
The Yankees New School: A Definition
So, what is this New School philosophy the Yankees will be employing? The Yankees have yet to define the term. Still, Lindsey Adler, writing in The Athletic, offers the strategy as a “new pitching technology that assists pitchers in pitch design and in refining their mechanics.”
If you want to take a whack at what that means, go right ahead. But to me, the New School is a continuation and expansion of the Old School. By now, the use of analytics in baseball is an old school.
Every team uses analytics, and the Yankees use them even more.
What’s Behind The Strategy?
Do the Yankees believe they can take a pitcher at the Class-A level of their organization today, and three years from now, he will have the superior mechanics of Jacob deGrom when he reaches the majors?
Do the Yankees believe they can take the same pitcher to the point where he will know the sequence of pitches he needs to throw to Mookie Betts to get him out? Moreover, he will be able to execute those pitches?
Does the New School have anything to do with developing arm strength and endurance? So their starting pitchers will replicate Justin Verlander and his self-taught ability to conserve pitches, so in a tight situation in the seventh inning, he can still dial-up 98 to get out of a jam?
And does the New School mean that Yankees pitchers will be “instructed” to use their slider 60% of the time when facing a right-handed batter, but if it’s a lefty up there, feed him nothing but changeups?
Is that where this is going? To the point where the Yankees have a staff of clones and robots?
Pitching Is An Art – Not A Science
Cole will tell you pitch by pitch and the location of a pitch that led to Soto’s home run against him in Game 5.
The good ones, the elite pitchers we can all name, teach themselves, and they learn from their mistakes.
If you tell a pitcher to throw a slider to a particular hitter and he hits it for a home run, that’s on you. I would have trusted another pitch in that situation – one that I own.
School’s Still Out On What This Means
We can guess, but we don’t know the full impact of the Yankees decision to overhaul the infrastructure of their pitching development strategy at the highest and lowest levels.
But it does suggest a continuation of the Yankee’s unwillingness to participate whole-heartedly in pursuing the help they need at the top of their starting rotation via the free-agent or trade markets.
This is a bold move by the Yankees and one that has all the ingredients of infuriating their fans – if it turns out to be true this winter.
We’ll know more when the replacements are named, and in particular, the person the Yankees select as the pitching coach to replace Rothschild…
And more significantly, will the temperature be rising to corral (and spend) what it’s going to take to bring the Yankees a winning formula today – not tomorrow?