On YES Network broadcasts, David Cone acts as a bridge between the world of old-school baseball and the new wave of data and analytics in the sport. His enthusiasm for analytics seems genuine, and you always get the sense that he loves sharing his knowledge about the nuances of pitching. At the same time, Cone brings years of MLB experience and a treasure trove of anecdotes to his role as a color commentator. Few broadcasters are able to integrate newer analytical frameworks with the insight of a former pitcher like Coney can while also maintaining the perspective of a longtime player.
Here is a compilation of Cone’s valuable observations and remarks on the team’s starting pitching so far this season.
On Gerrit Cole
Cone has praised Cole’s ability to make adjustments on the mound. Cole’s changeup, which he is using more often this year, has also impressed Cone. He’s referred to the pitch as Cole’s “new toy,” and likes seeing the success that Cole has had in using it to strike out opponents. “Pitch to your strengths” is one of Cone’s maxims, and he believes that Cole has a great feel for his stuff on any given night. After working through the first inning, Cole is able to adapt his pitch selection and sequencing as needed, depending on what is or isn’t working for him during an outing.
On a recent episode of CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco’s podcast, R2C2, in which he was a guest, Cone offered his take on the subject of personal catchers. For one, Cone thinks Cole’s relationship with Kyle Higashioka is an asset for the Yankees and should be viewed as such. That the two work well together should be regarded as a positive, rather than being used as fodder for drama. “It’s good to have your backup catcher work well with your ace,” Cone said.
On Corey Kluber
Cone sees Kluber as a pitcher who relies on movement and precision. Although it took a couple starts for Kluber to find his groove, Kluber’s stuff continues to sharpen with each outing. Although his velocity wasn’t all the way up at the start of the season, Kluber knows how to pitch, according to Cone. Cone is impressed with the way Kluber leverages a few different kinds of breaking balls to paint both sides of the plate. That he can pitch to both sides complements Kluber’s ability to spot his fastball.
On Jordan Mongomery
The way Monty pitches reminds Cone of his former teammate Andy Pettitte, as he has said several times on YES Network broadcasts. Like Pettitte, Monty excels at controlling the inside part of the plate with his cutter. According to Cone, Monty pitches his fastball in enough to keep [the hitters] on their toes, which also makes his changeup that much more effective. Monty has the right formula and makeup, Cone says, and, above all, he understands how lefties need to get hitters to freeze up by locating pitches on the inside corner of the plate.
Judging from his commentary on broadcasts, Cone appreciates the psychological aspects of pitching and emphasizes how important it is for pitchers to relax their minds. He also emphasizes how a pitcher’s approach on the mound matters more than his talent and pitch selection. Having conviction and executing pitches is the key to success, he says.
Unlike a number of his contemporaries who scoff at baseball’s changing culture, Cone is plugged into the analytical movement. Innovative pitching technologies fascinate him, and he doesn’t balk at learning new ways to break down the craft. His ability as a pitching analyst to combine both advanced baseball metrics and old-school ways of looking at the game is unique, and this makes Coney a valuable resource for understanding the state of the Yankees’ rotation.