Quick Hit: Giving Props to Larry Rothschild

The Yankees pitching staff this season felt as if it was cobbled together from rubbish and assorted cadavers, and held together by Scotch tape and some good ol' fashioned Elmer's glue. A total of thirty-three players threw a pitch for the team this year (and I say 'players' and not 'pitchers' because of Dean Anna), and thirteen pitchers started at least one game. The Yankees Opening Day rotation - CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda - combined to make only seventy-seven starts. Twenty-seven games were started by pitchers in their first taste of the Majors (Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell), and another twenty-seven went to folk that were on another team when the season kicked off (Brandon McCarthy, Chris Capuano, and the immortal Esmil Rogers). And, finally, the team used twenty-six different players out of the bullpen. To call it a staff in flux may be the understatement of the year. It would not have shocked anyone if this group ended up among the worst in baseball. Of course, you cannot predict baseball, and Larry Rothschild cares not for your worries and hand-wringing. Combine that pitching staff with Mr. Rothschild, and what do you get? One of the best staffs in baseball. Consider the team's placement in several integral pitching metrics (in the Majors, mind you):

  • 1st in K%-BB%
  • 2nd in fWAR
  • 2nd in K/BB
  • 2nd in BB%
  • 4th in K%
  • 5th in FIP-
  • 8th in ERA-

These numbers speak for themselves - the Yankees had, arguably, one of the two or three best pitching staffs in the Majors. Or, if you err on the side of caution and/or pessimism, inarguably a top-ten staff.

How did we end up here? The best guess would involve some combination of Rothschild's machinations and the team's pro scouting department, as well as Joe Girardi's skillful use of the bullpen. It is difficult to say with certainty, as we simply do not know how Rothschild works with these pitchers. Is he some sort of wizard? Or a pitcher whisperer? I cannot say for sure. It sure seems that way, though.