The Yankees will hire Matt Blake as their new pitching coach, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link). Blake is being hired out of the Indians front office, as he was promoted to the role of Cleveland’s director of pitching development just two days ago, after working as a pitching coordinator and assistant director of pitching development for the previous three seasons. Blake also has past ties to the Yankees, as he worked for the Bronx Bombers as an area scout before heading to Cleveland.
At only 33 years old, Blake will provide the younger and more analytic-based approach that the Yankees were seeking to find as they looked to replace longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Of the four known candidates for the job, three (with former Yankees star David Cone as the outlier) were younger names in their 30’s without much any direct coaching experience on an MLB staff. University of Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter and Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs were the two other names linked to the Yankees’ search.
It’s difficult to say the Yankees pitchers exactly struggled last year, as both New York’s starters and relievers ranked in the top half of the league in most major statistical categories despite some key names (Luis Severino, Dellin Betances) lost to injury for virtually the entire season. However, a lack of reliable innings from the rotation quickly became an issue in the ALCS, as the Yankees leaned hard on their bullpen and ultimately came up short to the Astros in six games.
It will be up to Blake to modernize the Yankees’ handling of their arms, and it perhaps isn’t surprising that New York hired someone from a Cleveland organization that has excelled at developing homegrown pitching in recent years. Indians manager Terry Francona recently praised Blake’s work in preparing young hurlers such as Jefry Rodriguez, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale, with the latter two making their Major League debuts in 2019.