This year the Yankees pitching isn’t performing the way it should, which is quite an understatement.
The new pitchers that were acquired last year, Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi, are performing worse than they did last year.
Eovaldi’s numbers are not much worse but still he declined from 4.20 to 4.76. Severino had a solid ERA of 2.89 last year as he kept his opponents to a batting average of .229. This year, Severino’s ERA has skyrocketed to a whopping 6.79. His opponents are hitting a lot better with him on the mound: .291.
The same with Michael Pineda. Since he joined the MLB squad of the Yankees, his ERA is heading North. 1.89 in 2014, 4.37 in 2015 and 5.10 in 2016.
You can go on. Chasen Shreve’s ERA is on the rise since joining the MLB squad. Ivan Nova’s ERA went down after his injury riddled season in 2014 but still he had a rather high 4.90. His biggest problem was his inconsistency. The weird thing is that his ERA went down after he was traded to the Pirates: 2.89.
So what is the matter with the Yankee pitching? Is the pressure too high for them? Is the pitching coach trying to improve the way of pitching? Is it a mental thing or is it about the mechanics?
No matter what the problem is, a pitching coach should be able to work on it. And perhaps you won’t see improvement right away, but in the long run things should improve. And of course not every problem that a pitcher has can be solved by a pitching coach. But with so many pitchers underperforming, you can only wonder what the role of a pitching coach is in this.
And if you think that a manager/(pitching) coach cannot have such a negative impact on a pitcher, I’d like to take Joe Black as an example (also mentioned in the book Boys of Summer). Black joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952. He went 15-4 with a 2.15 ERA. The next season the Dodgers wanted him to work on his mechanics and on several new pitches. That’s where the trouble started. During his days with the Dodgers Black never became his old self again. Sole exception may be 1955 when he had an ERA of 2.93. In the following years, his ERA rose again to 4.22, 4.52 and 7.11.
Larry Rothschild was a pitcher himself, but the biggest chunk of his career he pitched in the Minor Leagues. He pitched seven games in the Majors. Of course the fact that he hardly has some MLB experience should not be the criteria to judge him. But fact is that under his helm, recently the Yankees pitching (especially the younger pitchers) isn’t thriving.
During his first three years with the Yankees, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain went from promising prospects to unwanted players. The Yankees even did not make a qualifying offer to Hughes because they feared that he would accept it. It was the same problem with highly touted free agent A.J. Burnett. He struggled mightily with Rothschild as pitching coach (the sole exception was his first year with the Yankees in 2009).
I rather see David Cone be hired as a pitching coach, even though I am not sure if he is even interested. But when you listen to his commentary on YES network, you can hear that he knows what he is talking about. Telling how certain pitchers might improve if the Yankees would use them in a different way. Or telling how a different grip might help.
Perhaps the approach of Rothschild may help with another club but I really think that the magic of Rothschild isn’t working (anymore). Perhaps it is really time for a different pitching coach.