Yanks to hire Blake as pitching coach (source)

November 8th, 2019

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are set to hire Indians director of pitching development Matt Blake as their next pitching coach, a source confirmed to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Blake will succeed Larry Rothschild, who was dismissed on Oct. 28 with one year remaining on his contract. Blake, who is said to be adept with analytics and progressive pitching philosophies, has previously worked in the Yankees organization as an area scout.

The hiring of Blake, 33, fits with New York's desired change in direction with its pitching staff. In June, the Yankees hired Driveline Baseball's Sam Briend to take over the organization's Minor League pitching system, with general manager Brian Cashman saying that the club intended to “close the gap” on the explosion of technology.

Blake has been credited with assisting the rapid ascent of some of Cleveland’s exciting young hurlers, a group that includes Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Jefry Rodriguez. He was promoted from his previous role of assistant pitching director by Cleveland on Tuesday.

“He’s awesome,” Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer said on Twitter. “One of the smarter guys I know. Knows a lot about pitching. A lot about development. Good communicator. Really excited for him getting this opportunity and pumped to see the results.”

Other candidates who reportedly interviewed for the pitching coach vacancy were former Yankees pitcher David Cone and collegiate coaches Chris Fetter (University of Michigan) and Matt Hobbs (University of Arkansas). Two other college coaches, Nate Yeskie (University of Arizona) and Kirk Saarloos (TCU), turned down opportunities to interview for the job.

The Yankees' starters pitched to a 4.51 ERA in 2019, ranking 15th in Major League Baseball. Their relievers’ ERA was 4.08, ninth in the Majors.

As recently as 2015, Blake was serving as the pitching coach for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in suburban Boston. Now, he will inherit a staff that projects to be headed by Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Luis Severino, J.A. Happ and perhaps Domingo German and/or Jordan Montgomery in the rotation.

One of New York’s first offseason moves was to extend Aroldis Chapman’s contract by a year, keeping the left-hander in his closer’s role ahead of relievers like Zack Britton, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino.