Larry Rothschild’s effect on pitchers

Leyritz acquitted in Manslaughter DUI case
Open Thread: Football in the Bronx

When the Yankees hired Larry Rothschild away from the Cubs to be their new pitching coach yesterday, Ben noted that his staffs tend to boast high strikeout rates. Earlier this summer a poster on the FanGraphs Community blog looked at exactly that, and found out that pitchers did in fact improve their strikeout rates with Rothschild, close to 2.5% as a group. But what about walks? Another Cubs Blog tackled that a few days later and found that yep, pitchers improved their unintentional walk rate with Rothschild as well. More strikeouts and fewer walks is a great recipe for success.

The Yanks as a group struck out 0.62 fewer batters and walked 0.19 more (per nine innings pitched) in 2010 than in 2009, with CC Sabathia‘s rates taking a hit in particular. With any luck, Rothschild will help get the staff back into strikeout mode, which would be a tremendous help.

Leyritz acquitted in Manslaughter DUI case
Open Thread: Football in the Bronx
  • Kevin in Delectable Princeton

    It’s hard to quantify how good a coach or a manager is and this is about the closest we can get. I definitely like this move.

  • tomaconda

    Maybe he will fall in love with Joba the starter and talk Cashirardibrenner into giving him a chance in the 5 spot?

    • Mike HC

      That is realistically probably the best case scenario outcome for his tenure here. I’m not holding my breath though.

    • The Ancient Mariner

      I’m pretty sure that’ll only happen if Cliff Lee isn’t signed or Andy Pettitte retires, if either happens having Joba as the starter with just Nova/Noesi/Phelps as the back up plan isn’t a very good option.

      • tomaconda

        I think its a great option to have a young cost controlled pitcher who has the ability to be a dominant starter at times a very good option.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          They won’t do that because it makes to much sense. Besides they can just sign every FA under the sun. A couple of yrs from now they’ll do the same thing when another veteran starter hits the market.

    • Section 203

      When will everyone give up on the Joba as a starter option? The Yanks have publically said he will be in the bullpen and will train as such. As sad as it is, since the Yanks officially screwed him up, everyone needs to come to accept the fact he is a pen guy for the Yanks. The only way Joba starts is if he’s traded…

      • The Big City of Dreams

        “The only way Joba starts is if he’s traded…”

        I think those that want him to start are hoping that he does get traded.

      • jim p

        He’s not a starter because he can’t consistently locate his fastball. If he learns that, the number one thing any starter at any velocity has to learn to be good, then we have a different situation.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      I’d like to see that happen but unfortunately the brain trust have made up their minds and the B jobbers won

      Yay!!!!!!!! *sarcasm*

  • Sick Nwisher

    Rothschild will help get the staff back into strikeout mode, which would be a tremendous help.

    Cliff Lee will get that staff in K mode!

  • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

    From Cubs fans I’ve talked to/read comments from, they’re glad this guy is gone, but I’m glad to have him as pitching coach.

    I don’t think the strikeout numbers of 2010 were directly related to Eilan, though. Does he have some responsibility? Sure, but there were several things that I think that the Yankees’ pitchers did differently this year.

    -Joba was sent to the pen and almost half of his strikeouts were lost ( 133 in ’09, 77 in ’10).

    -Hughes was consistent with strikeouts, but then all of the sudden had trouble finishing off batters and there was a slight decrease in his K/9. In April through May, he hover just above a K/9 of 9.00. From June to August his K/9 ranged from 6.89 to 5.91.

    -Vazquez ranged from 7.36 to 8.19 strikeouts per 9 innings, but in July and September it dipped all the way to 5.01 and below.

    -Mitre and Moseley aren’t strikeout guys. While Mitre has the ability to strike guys out, both he and Moseley usually pitch to contact to try to get the ground ball.

    -CC, AJ, and Pettitte for the most part were very consistent with strikeouts. Especially Burnett, but it I did see times during the season where it looked as if CC and AJ changed with their approach a bit. There were a bunch of games where one could see CC pitching away from the batter to try and get the easy ground ball out.

    • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

      Let me fix that, there were “some things they did different this year in their approach, and they were a bit inconsistent”

    • Zack

      You are aware that Joba had 157.1 IP in 2009 and just 71.2 IP in 2010 right? That might explain that drop in total strike outs

      Vazquez had his stuff go from 91-93 to 86-88, don’t have to look much further than that.

      CC had a GB% above 50 for the first time in his career I believe, IIRC it was 42 last year, so yeah something changed in his approach.

      • Zack

        Mis-read the Joba part.

      • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

        That is why I said “Joba was sent to the pen”. Had he stayed in the rotation, he’d obviously contribute to the team strikeout totals in a great capacity.

        I’m sure Vazquez’s drop in velocity had a lot to do with his decrease in strikeouts. Did he really have dead arm, or was it another excuse from Eiland? How would Rothschild explain Javy’s drop in velocity.

        • Mike HC

          Thankfully we will not have to find out, because he will not be with the team next year. Unless Cash trades for him again. Javy is like a drug habit Cashman just can’t kick.

    • mbonzo

      Joba pitched less innings and his SO/9 actually went up from 7.6 in 2009 to 9.7 in 2010. His SO/BB went from 1.75 to 3.50. Hughes replaced Joba’s totals by posting 146 of his own strikeouts in 2010.

      Hughes and Javy’s trouble began from mid June to early July… anything interesting happen between that time? You might forget Eiland’s month long absence which correlates with not only them, but also Burnett’s troubles. Maybe its just a coincidence, but leaving the team for a month seems inexcusable when you have $100 million dollars worth of pitchers waiting for you.

      The 2009 Yankees got 15 starts from their bullpen of Mitre and Gaudin, as well as 9 starts from Wang, 7 from Hughes, and 1 from Aceves, while the 2010 Yankees got 12 from Moseley and Mitre, as well as 7 from Nova. The 2009 Yankees relied much more on their bullpen guys who you’d consider contact pitchers.

      As for the consistency from the 3 veterans, wouldn’t you expect veterans to take the least advice form the pitching coach?

    • The Ancient Mariner

      What? The staff’s drop in strikeouts is pretty much all AJ’s fault. He struck out 50 fewer batters, Javy didn’t really help either and the bullpen seemed quite a bit worse too.

  • Plank

    Where all Yankees Pitching Decisions are made.

  • David

    There’s probably no way right now to track this, but I wonder how crappy umpiring might have effected the stats, if it really is getting worse, and/or if some umps really do have an anti-Yankee bias, the pitchers don’t get the strike called a strike, that *could* result in lower strike out rates

    • mbonzo

      If there was an “anti-Yankee” bias with the umpires, the FO would be the first ones to point that out and umpires would be fired. Umpiring has always been imperfect, but an anti-Yankee bias is ridiculous.

  • OldYanksFan

    Seems like Cashman did some serious work when interviewing, in qualifying the pitching coach. Don’t know much about Larry, so I will just hope he can straighten AJ out.

    • Accent Shallow

      Apparently Rotschild’s interview process involved looking at video of Burnett.

      For eight hours.

  • emac2

    I’m all for more strikeouts as long as that doesn’t mean a big jump in number of pitches per batter. I prefer winning to impressive strike out totals.

    Of course I don’t like Yankee pitchers on my fantasy team so I’m probably different.

    • The Ancient Mariner

      Pitchers that get strikeouts are typically better than ones that don’t, better pitchers means more wins.

      • Dirt

        This is why King Felix is bad.

      • emac2

        Should I read this to mean that you think Larry simply makes pitchers better or that we need to get better pitchers?

        My point is that you can coach the guys to go for the strike out instead of pitching to contact and this alone can increase the strikeout rate. The problem is you end up with your starters at 100 pitches after 6 innings too often.

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    What I like about Rothschild is not the K rate, but how his staffs perform relative to league average.

    2002: 94 ERA+
    2003: 114 ERA+
    2004: 116 ERA+
    2005: 105 ERA+
    2006: 98 ERA+
    2007: 115 ERA+
    2008: 119 ERA+
    2009: 116 ERA+
    2010: 103 ERA+

    That’s a pretty darn good record – almost a 110 ERA+ over the nine years. Look at the names he developed – Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Randy Wells, Rich Hill – and turned around – Dempster, Silva, Gorzelanny, Lilly, Marquis and Clement. That latter group is especially impressive when we look at them before they arrived and after they left.

    The only real red flag is how many of those developed pitchers developed arm troubles. But it’s hard to say who’s responsible there. I only hope they asked him about that ignomious record and what the lessons learned are. Or they pin it on Baker and know the front office will set innings limits.

  • I Am Not The Droids You’re Looking For

    Anyone less drunk than I who can say this is a statistically significant difference?

  • bonestock94

    Pretty cool that they went out and got a coach that might actually make a tangible difference.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    I view this hire mainly to correct AJ & Joba. Two high octane SO pitchers that imploded last yr & both need to be put back on track. If he can straighten them out alone he is worth the signing.

    I would like to have read more about his effects on lowering his staff’s ERA & increasing W/L % .
    Cash talks about him being a WS pitching coach with the Marlins but that was almost 15 yrs ago.

    Typically SO are based on the heat & movement a pitcher can throw. Is emphasis on the SO along with a hgh innings limit the reason for so many injuries in Chicago? Point here is althoough the SO is sexy we should be more concerned with ERA’s as that translates into W’s.

  • jose m vazquez

    burnett canbefixed if rothchild changes his delivery as was done withbob turley and don larsen in the mid 1950s to ano windup delivery.