Should the Yankees look for a new pitching coach?
So, the 2018 New York Yankees season ended on Tuesday after a mediocre showing in the American League Championship Series. This is not a shock. There were flaws that the 2018 Yankee team showed all season that returned in the ALCS. The team could not hit consistently or pitch consistently at the same time. A team many thought would go a long way, ended up with an early exit, to the anger of a lot of Yankee fans. There is some need to change, but it is not in the form of firing Brian Cashman or Aaron Boone. There needs to be a change at pitching coach. That means Larry Rothschild.
Larry Rothschild is considered around the game of baseball a universally respected pitching coach. He knows well how to use analytics in pitching. He has an anti-fastball approach that would make sense some of the time, as baseball players have gotten better at turning around 100, 101 or 102. The idea of more breaking balls help, but his concept of completely dumping the fastballs is something that has caused hell.
Sonny Gray was an ace in Oakland. The Yankees paid a small sum for his services during the 2017 season. Since then, he has completely fallen apart. While people seem to think that the idea of Yankee Stadium or playing in New York is in his head, there seems to be a problem in his mechanics. When Sonny Gray is at his best, his fastball and his breaking stuff do wonders in being hidden to deceive the hitter.
Before coming to the Bronx, Gray was a primarily fastball (two-seam and four-seam) pitcher. He never threw his fastball less than 55% of the time. His best work is when his four-seam fastball and sinker are able to get groundballs. However, the Yankees seemed to change his mechanics to where he is nibbling and not getting the groundballs. All of the pitches are outside of the strike zone or in the dirt. No one is swinging at that mostly. It leads to a spiked walk-rate and a spiked home run rate when Gray has to throw a strike down the middle.
The problem is that Gray was at his best with what he did in Oakland. Austin Romine understands that, but at the same time, it seems like Larry Rothschild is calling the shots. Gray’s mechanics are all screwed up. Everyone keeps thinking Gray is done in New York, but maybe a new set of eyes on his mechanics would go a long way in helping him. The Yankees’ anti-fastball approach does not work for everyone, unlike splitter machine Masahiro Tanaka.
Larry Rothschild would get a job tomorrow if the Yankees let him go. The Yankees have respected his work since they let Dave Eiland go. However, every coach not named Frank Crosetti has a shelf life. Sometimes teams should bring in new opinions. Larry Rothschild and Mike Harkey are the only remains of the Joe Girardi administration. The Yankees could use a new pitching coach for 2019.
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