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New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottavino warms up in the bullpen during the sixth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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Jarrell: Yankees Pitching Coach Hire A Sign of New Approach

Just eleven short days after it began, the Yankees’ search for a pitching coach to replace Larry Rothschild has ended. Aaron Boone’s new right-hand man is Matt Blake, 33, who was just promoted to director of pitching development with the Indians two days ago but chose to forego that opportunity in favor of greener pastures in the Bronx.

Blake, a native of New Hampshire, apparently did some scouting in New England for the Yankees during his time as pitching coach at Lincoln-Sudbury High School in the suburbs of Boston. He was snatched up by the Indians in 2015 and worked in that organization up until now. 

For those searching for a definitive judgment on the signing, you will not find one here; far too little is known about Blake, his background, and his work over a five-year tenure with Cleveland. But the early returns are promising. Trevor Bauer, who has grown famous for his usage of analytics and willingness to discuss the finer details of pitching on social media, immediately tweeted his full support of and admiration for the new Yankees Pitching Coach.

Joel Sherman also reports that other Cleveland minor leaguers appreciate Blake’s eye for analytics and skill in breaking down the numbers in ways that can be easily understood and implemented. Blake’s results with the Indians have also been commendable. The organization has produced an infantry’s worth of capable arms, with Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, and Jefry Rodriguez contributing at the big league level last season.

Perhaps the system’s signature accomplishment is Shane Bieber, who submitted a Cy Young-caliber 2019 with a relatively flat, slow fastball in an era that is defined by rising velocity and spin rates.

Of course, it is unclear just how much of the responsibility for that success falls at Blake’s feet. The Yankees must have seen something they really liked because this was a fairly quick decision that came after just the fourth interview.

Two college coaches were brought in along with David Cone, and two others declined interview requests. The team elected not to consider more seasoned candidates before settling on Blake – but that may not be a bad thing. Smart, young analytical minds are the wave of the future, particularly in pitching. New York has set itself upon the cutting edge of development with this choice, major league coaching experience be damned.

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