The Press Pass: Matt Blake 7-17-20

Matt Blake Is Part of the New Wave of Baseball Coaches. He Was Hired by the Yankees Because He Uses Lots of Video Technology and Data. He Shares the Importance of Knowing When and How to Share Data in a Way That It Is Helpful.

In an interview with WKXL’s Chris Ryan, the new pitching coach for the Yankees and Concord, NH native son, Matt Blake discusses the upcoming abbreviated 2020 baseball season. He relates the challenges of this year which is so unlike any other year in baseball. He was working with his players and getting ready to come north for opening day when the season suddenly came to a halt. Everything was suspended with no end in sight and his pitchers scattered all over the country. Devising a system where his players could maintain their conditioning on their own and be ready for a sudden return to action was difficult. Finally, the players’ union and the owners agreed to a short season with precautions to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Matt Blake’s next challenge was to get the pitchers ready quickly. Two star pitchers were suddenly unavailable. Masahiro Tanaka was hit in the head by a line drive on July 4th and closer Aroldis Chapman tested positive for COVID-19 on July 1st.

If you throw in developing protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, Matt Blake had to think about a lot of things besides pitching mechanics. As coach, he has to make sure that players are wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, washing their hands, and not touching each other’s equipment. Games will be played without fans, so pitchers will have to provide their own adrenaline rush to get that strike out.

In the conclusion of the interview, Matt Blake talks about his relationship with the Yankees big free agent acquisition, Gerrit Cole. It was a nine-year deal valued at roughly $324 million. The free agent pitcher wanted Matt Blake to be hired as pitching coach because of his use of modern technological equipment and reliance on data. So far, their relationship has flourished. Cole has been pitching well and has been a positive influence on the rest of the staff. Matt Blake discusses the importance of figuring out how much and when to give someone actionable data.