A 103-win season and a trip to the ALCS was not enough to save parts of the New York Yankees’ coaching staff.
The 65-year-old has been the Yankees’ pitching coach since the 2011 season. His staff’s ERA has been ranked within the top six of the American League for each of the past three seasons.
However, the Achilles heel of a Yankees team that quickly went from rebuilding three years ago back to an American League powerhouse has been the pitching — specifically the starting rotation.
New York failed to obtain a true ace as general manager Brian Cashman did not pull the trigger on a blockbuster arm at the trade deadline this season.
In an attempt to support perceived ace Luis Severino before the 2019 season, he traded for James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners — who was immediately expected to step up into a No. 2 role in a big market despite never experiencing a true top-end workload while experiencing problems giving up home runs.
Behind them, Masahiro Tanaka rounded out a promising top three while JA Happ was making his return to the Bronx after an impressive 11-start stint during the second half of the 2018 season in which he went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA.
But Severino got hurt — shelved for most of the season as he dealt with a shoulder and lat issues. Paxton was a first-half liability before righting the ship in the second half while Happ never really sorted things out.
Tanaka was inconsistent and veteran lefty CC Sabathia’s availability — let alone his production — was a wild card in his final season in the pros.
Domingo German was the pleasant surprise of the season, going 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA before he was suspended by Major League Baseball when charged with sexual assault.
New York’s starting rotation finished off the regular season with a 4.51 ERA, which ranked 15th in the majors.
Their inability to go deep into games — which also had to do with Aaron Boone’s reliance on one of the game’s best bullpens — turned out to be a major flaw that couldn’t get them past the Houston Astros in the ALCS. However, an inability to get timely hits certainly didn’t help, either.
Tanaka, Paxton, and Severino — the three Yankees starters used in the ALCS — combined to throw just 23.2 of 54.2 total innings of the six-game series. They were no match for Houston’s big three of Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and Justin Verlander, who are a win away from winning their second World Series title in three seasons.
While the Yankees starting rotation did not belong anywhere near some of the more elite groups in baseball, the decision to remove Rothschild suggests that the Yankees believed there was plenty more the pitching coach could have done to get the most out of his staff.