The New York Yankees hired Matt Blake as their new pitching coach, poaching one of the key cogs in the Cleveland Indians‘ pitching-development machine as the replacement for longtime coach Larry Rothschild, sources told ESPN.
Blake, who was promoted two days ago by Cleveland to director of pitching development, adds a coach well-versed in analytics and progressive pitching philosophies to a Yankees organization that focused its search on younger coaches — including a handful who work at the collegiate level. They interviewed Michigan’s Chris Fetter and Arkansas’ Matt Hobbs, and Arizona’s Nate Yeskie and TCU’s Kirk Saarloos turned down opportunities to talk about the job. The Yankees also interviewed David Cone, the former Cy Young winner who is a broadcaster on the team’s YES Network.
The rapid ascent of Blake started in 2015, when he was still serving as pitching coach for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School outside Boston. Blake’s reputation had grown within the industry due to his work with Eric Cressey, the New England-based performance coach. Blake did some scouting work in the area for the Yankees. Then Cleveland, which has arguably the most robust pitching factory in baseball, hired him as a pitching coordinator.
Quickly he became an indispensable figure in the organization, spending the past four years with the Indians as they regularly churned out quality major league pitchers. This past season alone, starters Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Jefry Rodriguez along with reliever James Karinchak came through the farm system to debut, and starter Shane Bieber developed into an All-Star.
With the Yankees, Blake will be tasked with imparting information given by the team’s analytics department as well as the hands-on coaching that one source who has worked with Blake said “he excels at.” The balance between the two could be Blake’s biggest challenge, though the Yankees grew confident that his acumen in both regards will lead to an even better pitching staff.
The Yankees ranked sixth in the American League in 2019 with a 4.31 ERA and spent most of the season juggling their rotation with injuries to No. 1 starter Luis Severino and back-of-the-rotation left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Both are expected to be healthy come next spring and join a rotation that also could include Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Domingo German and J.A. Happ. The Yankees also are expected to pursue free agent Gerrit Cole this winter.