Pitching has dominated the conversation for the Yankees this offseason. Although he’s not a player, the first domino fell when the team named Matt Blake their new pitching coach. Blake has been part of the Indians organization since 2015, quickly rising from Lower Level Pitching Coordinator, to Assistant Director of Player Development, to Pitching Director. That meteoric rise is even more impressive considering the Indians have created several young studs over that span in Shane Bieber, Zack Pleasac, Aaron Civale, and more.
Blake and the Cleveland Indians proved to be the best producers of young pitching over the last few years, and the Yankees now wish to do the same. From the sound of it, the developing arms are in good hands.
Just heard from a pitching prospect who had this to say about Matt Blake:— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) November 8, 2019
“Best pitching coach I’ve ever worked with. Hands down.”
Dismissing Larry Rothschild and hiring Blake are two isolated moves that will shape the direction of the team’s pitching. Additionally, back in June, the Yankees hired Sam Briend to serve as their Director of Pitching. Briend previously served as a member of Driveline Baseball, a training facility in Washington state dedicated towards data-driven development of baseball players.
As the Yankees continue to dive deeper as an analytically based baseball organization, it’s no coincidence they also brought in Blake, who has a similar background working for Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts.
The Bombers have been able to see numerous hitters reach the majors in Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, and Gleyber Torres having instant impact over the last few years. But in the same span only Luis Severino and Domingo German have been able to match that equivalent high performance on the mound. That is something the Yankees are looking to change with multiple pitchers having the opportunity of flipping that narrative over the next few years. Jordan Montgomery will have the opportunity to pitch a full season for the first time since 2017, Deivi Garcia and Michael King seem close to making their mark on the big league club, while Albert Abreu and Clarke Schmidt are two highly ranked prospects not so far behind.
The Houston Astros have been known for acquiring veteran pitchers and making them better, the Cleveland Indians have been able to produce great young starters at an unmatched rate, while the Yankees and other clubs are attempting to catch up. Yes, the free agent market is littered with tons of pitching talent, but the Yankees won’t be depending on free agency consistently to fill their rotation, something that they have well proven. Working with the younger pitchers from an analytical point of view has clearly become a focus of the organization, and it will be a priority more than ever with Blake and Briend now carrying important titles in the organization.
Of the top 30 prospects in the Yankees organization, 16 are pitchers, and that doesn’t include projects like Jonathan Loaisiga and Chance Adams. Now that the Yankees have created a championship window, they need to find a way to get the most out of each pitcher going through the farm system like they have with their hitters. The Yankees simply can’t afford to have such a low rate of success developing pitchers with the amount of potential this team currently possesses.