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My Choice for Yankees Pitching Coach….

As many writers have noted, none of us on the outside truly know the impact of a pitching coach on his staff. There are metrics that seem to indicate that Larry Rothschild was a very good pitching coach. Other metrics tend to dispute this. We could look and find some pitchers who seemed to blossom under his coaching and others who fell apart. Was Rothschild a great coach? Who knows. Maybe he was.

A few months ago, I was particularly frustrated with the Yankees pitching. During that time, I did my own research on Rothschild’s body of work with the Yankees. The conclusions of my study seemed to indicate that Rothschild didn’t have much sustained success with any Yankees pitcher. But, I also said in the study, and say now, that my research was just one indicator and it was, by no means, conclusive.

Whatever the ultimate reasons, the Yankees fired Rothschild yesterday and they now need a new pitching coach.

Among the many quality candidates, one stands out brighter than the others in my opinion. The coach I would choose is a former Yankee who once threw a no-hitter in the Bronx. His first name is David… but it’s not the person getting all the attention right now. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing David Cone as the pitching coach. He sounds very knowledgeable in the broadcasts on YES.

But I would bring back a different Dave…

I would love to see the Yankees bring back their former ace pitcher, Dave Righetti.

Dave Righetti demonstrated over a long career as the pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants that he was a very effective coach. Righetti was the pitching coach in San Francisco from 2000 to 2017. That’s one long tenure. In and of itself, that says a lot. But, it was a tenure filled with much success. The Giants, with Righetti as the pitching coach, reached the World Series four times winning three of them. With Dave Righetti as the pitching coach, the Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Winning, though, is just one indication of Righetti’s success. According to Fangraphs in 2011, it seems that one of Righetti’s great skills was his ability to have his pitchers limit home runs allowed. This article stated, in part:

“Righetti is the only pitching coach who seems to have any significant effect on HR/FB rate, and it’s decidedly negative. His starters have a HR/FB almost two standard deviations away from the model’s expectations, while none of the other coaches are over one standard deviation in either direction. Also note that this looks at more than 8,700 innings under each coach’s tutelage. To outperform the model’s expected rate, which predicts the Giants to have a below-average HR/FB already, seems beyond the bounds of luck.”

The article went on to state:

“…given that Righetti is one constant in a sea of ever changing variables, and the results continue to stay the same year in and year out, it’s likely that he is part of the answer. We probably need to start including him in discussions about the best pitching coaches in baseball.”

I think it is fair to state that the Yankees could definitely benefit from a pitching coach that helps their pitchers limit the amount of home runs they allow.

Further, Righetti was so respected in San Francisco that he served as the pitching coach under four different managers. When does that happen?

Also, with Righetti as the pitching coach, the San Francisco Giants had a series of very successful award winning pitchers. As SABR noted:

“Under Righetti’s tutelage, Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young Award twice (2008, 2009), Jason Schmidt won The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year (2004), Brian Wilson won the NL Rolaids Reliever of the Year (2010), and Madison Bumgarner was the World Series MVP (2014). His pitchers combined for 22 All-Star selections.”

That sustained success speaks volumes. Volumes.

There are two other reasons that I would love to see Righetti back in the Bronx as their pitching guru.

The first is that he was a great Yankees who often didn’t get the recognition he deserved in pinstripes. Righetti was a bright spot on the Yankees teams of the 1980’s. It would be great for him to return to the Yankees to help bring them back to the World Series, something he wasn’t quite able to do as a player.

Secondly, Dave Righetti was also Madison Bumgarner’s first pitching coach in the big leagues and he was with Mad Bum for all of his early career success. In the SABR article linked above, comes this quote from Bumgarner:

“Righetti is obviously the only pitching coach I’ve ever had, but it would be hard to imagine a better one. It seems like he always knows what to do and how to approach somebody and how to help him. He’s not always set in one way to help someone out. He can adjust to who he’s talking to and knows how to talk to them and he’s a lot of fun to work with.”

As I contemplate the 2020 Yankees, one player I would love to see them sign is Madison Bumgarner. I think the Yankees need a presence like him in the rotation – especially once the post season rolls around. Most people seem to think that Bumgarner is extremely old, but he’s only 30-years old. He’s just one year older than Gerrit Cole, in fact. I think that the Yankees could sign Bumgarner for a much friendlier contract than Cole will receive. If Bumgarner comes to New York, I’d love for his best pitching coach to be at his side.

Dave Righetti now works for the Giants’ front office. At this point in his life and career, he might not wish to spend seasons in the dugout with pitchers traveling from city to city. He had his success. It is possible that he’s now entered another phase of his life. Because of this, it might take a lot of convincing for this native of California to come back east, to come back to his first Major League baseball home.

But it would be great to have him back with the Yankees.

I hope the Yankees seek out Righetti to see if he’s interested in a reunion. I don’t think there is a better candidate out there than the great Dave Righetti.


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