Dave Eiland out as Yankees pitching coach

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We weren’t expecting this: Brian Cashman is having his season-in-review press conference at Yankee Stadium, and he just announced that pitching coach Dave Eiland won’t be returning in 2011. Cashman said that the reason for the firing is “private,” but that it’s not a result of the Yankees’ poor pitching performance in the ALCS.

The reason behind any given move in the Yankee Universe is hard to suss out these days. Unlike back when The Boss was running things, you can’t assume that things are done out of anger or emotion, though of course that could be possible. Unless my old reliable for any unexplained firing — the pilfering of office supplies — is revealed as the reason, my guess is that there were just fundamental disagreements between Eiland ans Girardi about how best to use the staff, how best to figure out A.J. Burnett (Eiland: shock therapy, Girardi: a sound beating) or whatever other pedestrian matters come between a manager and one of his coaches.

And I would guess that Girardi is on board here. All emanations from the Yankees are that they have full confidence in him and Girardi is clear on saying he wants to come back. Indeed, right after announcing the firing of Eiland, Cashman made a point to say that he would be meeting with Girardi’s agent tomorrow to discuss a contract extension.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Last week, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that Astros starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Specifically, Verlander lowered his release point from 7’2″ to 6’5″.

As Brooks Baseball shows, Verlander drastically altered his release point after being traded to the Astros from the Tigers on August 31, 2017. The change resulted in a huge bump in his strikeout rate. Verlander’s strikeout rate ranged between 16% and 27.4% with the Tigers, mostly settling in the 23-25% range. With The Tigers through the first five months of 2017, Verlander struck out 24.1% of batters. In the final month with the Astros, he struck out 35.8% of batters. He then maintained that rate over the entire 2018 and ’19 seasons with respective rates of 34.8% and 35.4%. Just as impressively, the release point also resulted in fewer walks. His walk rate ranged from 5.9% to 9.9% with the Tigers but was 4.4% and 5.0% the last two seasons with the Astros.

Verlander finished a runner-up in 2018 AL Cy Young Award balloting to Blake Snell before edging out teammate Gerrit Cole for the award last season. Despite the immense success, Verlander described his mechanics as unsustainable. Per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, Verlander said, “I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary. But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander is 37 years old, so 10 more seasons would put him into Jamie Moyer territory. Moyer, who consistently ranked among baseball’s softest-tossing pitchers, pitched 25 seasons in the majors from 1986-2012.  He threw 111 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2010 at the age of 47 and 53 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2012 at 49. But aside from Moyer and, more recently, Bartolo Colon, it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers to extend their careers into their 40’s, let alone their mid- and late-40’s.

The Astros have Verlander under contract through 2021. The right-hander will have earned close to $300 million. He’s won a World Series, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, two Cy Youngs, and has been an eight-time All-Star. Verlander could retire after 2021 and would almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2027. That he continues to tweak his mechanics in order to pitch for another decade speaks to his highly competitive nature.