I was on the record as saying I would not have been a fan of the Yankees promoting Mike Harkey from bullpen coach to pitching coach, but I have to admit I was a little surprised when my old man handed me the sports section of the Saratoga Springs newspaper in the hotel dining room yesterday morning to tell me that the Yanks had hired Larry Rothschild as their pitching coach. His name hadn't been mentioned at all amongst the list of "leading" candidates so my initial reaction was "Larry Rothschild??? Why him??" But now that I've had time to read up on Rothschild's coaching history and his interview process with the Yankees, I think he's the perfect man for the job. Here's why.
1) More strikeouts and fewer walks
Studies by FanGraphs have shown that pitchers under Rothschild tend to strike out more batters and walk fewer. The Cubs pitchers led the league in strikeouts 7 times under Rothschild from 2002-2010 and set the ML record in 2003. The Yankee pitchers struck out fewer batters and walked more in 2010 than they did in 2009, with CC and A.J.'s numbers in particular taking big hits. Combining Rothschild's approach with the Yankee pitchers' stuff could work to improve the staff's K and BB rates in 2011.
2) Repeating deliveries
On his conference call after being hired, Rothschild stressed the importance of being able to repeat your delivery as a pitcher. He actually spoke more about that point than he did about individual pitchers on the Yankees. There are plenty of guys on the Yankee staff who have had issues repeating their deliveries, with A.J. and Joba being the 2 most glaring examples, but with CC and Mo also being guys who experienced issues with their deliveries this past season.
3) Track record of success
Rothschild has held many jobs as a Major League coach and has been successful at all of them. He's been a part of 2 World Series champions (1990 Reds and 1997 Marlins), was the first manager of the Rays and improved their record in each of his 3 years on the job (no easy task when you consider how talent-strapped those teams were), and we've already touched on his success with the Cubs' pitching staff since '02. He's a smart baseball guy and has the history to back that up, something Dave Eiland never had. If there's a veteran coach out there who should be able to improve each member of this pitching staff, it's Rothschild.
Spring Training Game 26 – Yanks at Phillies
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