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Bullpen Mechanics
— A Scout's View

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THT: Chamberlain or Hughes-Who has the better mechanics?

“...right now, from a mechanical efficiency point-of-view, the choice is clear.”

Here’s the link to the article at The Hardball Times:
Joba vs. Phil

ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 01:47 PM | 46 comment(s)
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   1. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 01:52 PM (#2485698)
I'm wondering what the reaction will be from Yankee fans....this should be interesting.
Enjoy...

Carlos, aka ChadBradfordWannabe
   2. aleskel Posted: August 15, 2007 at 02:51 PM (#2485774)
well, I'm a Yankee fan, so I can safely say that it doesn't matter who you prefer. No matter who's better, Joba or Phil Franchise, we all win.

terrific article, Carlos, as always. Truth be told, when I first saw Joba, what jumped out to me was how smooth he looked even when throwing such nasty stuff. And I think you're right about Hughes going back to the lower arm slot since coming back from the DL - his fastball has had more tailing movement than in his first couple of starts.
   3. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: August 15, 2007 at 03:14 PM (#2485800)
I enjoyed it, Carlos. I very much like that you reach back in time to reprint predictions that don't make you look good. Very good writers elsewhere were shipped without that feature.
   4. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 03:51 PM (#2485845)
And I think you're right about Hughes going back to the lower arm slot since coming back from the DL

I went back and checked it. He is a little lower and as you point out, it seems like he has more tailing action to it right now. Still too slow and tall for my liking though. I will say this, again. He repeats his mechanics SO well.

Truth be told, when I first saw Joba, what jumped out to me was how smooth he looked even when throwing such nasty stuff.

That was kinda what I thought too. It was like, "wait a sec, this isn't the same guy as last year." Which, BTW, is the same thing I said about Phil Hughes ('06 vs. '07)

I very much like that you reach back in time to reprint predictions that don't make you look good.

Humbling, but hey, I said it, so no use hiding from it. Thanks for the props.
   5. Keith Law Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:27 PM (#2485894)
Nice job, Carlos ... and not just because you agreed with me!
   6. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:27 PM (#2485895)
Carlos,

Just so you know, this article has been linked at replacementlevel.com, and there are a few comments there as well.

I also have a question. Joba has been playing pro-ball for a year now, and one of the reasons his stock has risen so quickly is because of the change in his mechanics from when he was drafted, right? Is this drastic of a change, happening this quickly, with such dramatic effects unusual? And a more general question, how does a coach look at a pitcher and figure out which mechanics work for him?
   7. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:29 PM (#2485898)
Can't edit, so let me just say nevermind, I see you found the link.

Keith, what's the deal Buccholz over Hughes?
   8. Keith Law Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2485909)
Buchholz has two plus secondary pitches, including a changeup I'd rate a 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scale. Hughes has just one above-average secondary pitch, the curve, and it's not as good as Buchholz' change; I'll see Buchholz again on Friday, but based on what I've seen so far, I think their curves are comparable. Hughes throws a little harder, but not much, and both have fastball command issues to work on - extremely common in young pitchers. Heck, Dustin McGowan's fastball command finally moved forward this year, and I believe he was drafted seven years ago.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:43 PM (#2485919)
I'll see Buchholz again on Friday
On NESN? It looks likely he'll be making his MLB debut, though nothing has been announced.
   10. McLovin Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2485928)
Hughes has just one above-average secondary pitch, the curve

I've only gotten to see one of Hughes's starts, the no-hitter. He only threw about 4 changeups in that game, but 3 of them were to Teixeira and left him looking silly. Definitely looked like an above-average pitch there.
   11. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 04:56 PM (#2485942)
Nice job, Carlos ... and not just because you agreed with me!

Calls 'em as I sees 'em. Thanks though. BTW, to everyone here, Keith Law and Rob Neyer are the main reason friggin ESPN Insider got my money...bastards...glad I did though.


Is this drastic of a change, happening this quickly, with such dramatic effects unusual?

My best examples come from my students, and there is one in particular who I'm proudest of. I got this lefty as a student (16 years old) who came to me May 15th, throwing 69-71. He's now comfortably 78-79 mph, topped at 83. With him, it was a MAJOR tempo change that led to it. Another one, 12-year old kid...started 60-61... same kinda changes (tempo, direction and a few other things) now comfortably 66-67, topping at 69. He JUST turned 12, by the way. At the MLB level, I'd think that the effects wouldn't be AS dramatic (because they already do MOST things well), but they are real. I'm not trying to sell an instructional video here, I'm just documenting some of the more major ones.

And a more general question, how does a coach look at a pitcher and figure out which mechanics work for him?

Tough question to answer cuz I don't know the particular coach's expertise. My approach is the video approach. I don't care who you are, an extra pair of eyes (the camera) that is objective can tell you a LOT more than what human eyes can capture. Then try to match up the pitcher with someone with similar mechanics and try to implement changes within the framework of my general philosophy.
   12. Keith Law Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2485949)
I know Carlos and I disagree on some small points about pitching mechanics - I like guys who gather themselves over the rubber, and then explode forward, whereas I think Carlos prefers pitchers who just get on with it and don't hang over the rubber - but one thing that we really agree on is that it's critical for a pitcher to move quickly once he starts for the plate. Guys who hesitate as they're coming forward or as they're landing sacrifice both velocity and command. And I don't think that's a hard fix. It's not like changing someone's arm action, for example. Carlos, your thoughts?
   13. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2485980)
I know Carlos and I disagree on some small points about pitching mechanics - I like guys who gather themselves over the rubber, and then explode forward, whereas I think Carlos prefers pitchers who just get on with it and don't hang over the rubber

Yup, you are right. In my opinion, if you keep your body moving through the "balance point," then it is easier to maintain momentum throughout instead of coming up with some other way of engaging your body after you've gathered yourself up there. Plus, I also think it leads to longer strides since, in a way, since your butt/hips are gaining ground forward as the leg goes up. There's more to it, but, that's the general idea.

However, all that said.....

but one thing that we really agree on is that it's critical for a pitcher to move quickly once he starts for the plate. Guys who hesitate as they're coming forward or as they're landing sacrifice both velocity and command. And I don't think that's a hard fix. It's not like changing someone's arm action, for example.

Strongly agree. Strongly agree. Strongly agree. As much as I prefer "drifting through the balance point," a pitcher can make up for it if there is no hesitation and moves quickly on their move down.

Keith isn't a pitching coach and he understands this better than most pitching coaches, by the way.
   14. Jimmy P Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:23 PM (#2485997)
Since both KLaw and CBW are here, do you guys think that the Yankees will eventually move Joba back to the rotation, or is he now stuck in the 70 IP a year club. Seems like a waste if his body can truly take 200-220 IP a year.
   15. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:30 PM (#2486012)
I would hope that the Yanks move Joba into the rotation, although I don't have the inside knowledge on their plans. KLaw would probably know best.
   16. Long Time Reader, First time Poster Posted: August 15, 2007 at 05:49 PM (#2486035)
Great work... I really enjoy these series of articles... I see a ton of minor league baseball and pay close attention to the pitchers.. I've seen both Chamberlain and Hughes and appreciate learning more about their deliveries with the video and the analysis. There is another pitcher in the Yankee system that I would like to see your analysis of... Alan Horne who has plus stuff (not as good as Hughes or Chamblerlain but better than a guy like Ian Kennedy) but to my untrained eye his mechanics could be preventing future success due to future arm problems...

Question for Keith Law on Post #8:

you mentioned "Hughes throws a little harder, but not much, and both have fastball command issues to work on - extremely common in young pitchers. "

I beg to differ with you on that.. I believe that Hughes has outstanding fastball command... some of the best I've seen in the past few years at the AA level. I believe his outstanding command is the key to his success as his fastball is straighter than one would like and he is still working on his changeup (like you mentioned later in the post Hughes only has the curveball as a secondary pitch).

Having to pick between Chamberlain and Hughes?? Chamberlain has better stuff... Hughes has better command...
   17. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 15, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2486069)
BTW, off topic for a second, I read this article on San Diego's 23rd overall pick, Nick Schmidt...

http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/padres/20070813-9999-1s13minors.html

"General Manager Kevin Towers said Nick Schmidt, shut down this month because of an elbow injury, raised no health concerns before the Padres selected him 23rd overall in the draft in June and guaranteed him $1.29 million. “(The doctor) thought he was one of the healthier guys he had seen,” Towers said. A former professional player, Carlos Gomez, who does video analysis of pitchers' mechanics for Harballtimes.com, had red-flagged Schmidt before the draft, writing that the left-hander's abrupt finish “would scare the hell out of me in terms of his durability.” Said Towers: “From a delivery standpoint, we didn't send up any red flags.”


I'm not happy that he's hurt, but maybe someone will listen now...
   18. JC in DC Posted: August 15, 2007 at 06:22 PM (#2486077)
How to respond? Great news, Carlos! seems a bit, well, schadenfreude. But, anyway, way to go, Carlos!
   19. Kyle S Posted: August 15, 2007 at 06:25 PM (#2486080)
That's really cool, but also absolutely outstanding reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune writer. Good job by him digging that up.
   20. Keith Law Posted: August 15, 2007 at 06:35 PM (#2486093)
Schmidt needs Tommy John surgery. Not to toot, but I did write it last Thursday.

LTR-FTP, I think Hughes has outstanding command, but not fastball command, at least not in games where I've seen him. As I said, it's common in young pitchers, and I don't see any reason why his won't improve. In fact, I think it will improve, because his arm's path is short and he repeats his delivery extremely well.
   21. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: August 15, 2007 at 06:40 PM (#2486099)
Last year Hughes' fastball was a couple ticks faster and he had phenomenal command of it. It really was something else to see. This year... well, I just hope it's the mechanics and they'll get back to 2006. His fastball has been 90-92 mostly and he's not commanding it that well. I like him a ton still, but IMO he's taken a step back this season.
   22. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: August 16, 2007 at 04:27 PM (#2487450)
CWB,

One difference between Chamberlain and Hughes I noticed is how they move their left leg. Chamberlain drops his down and then forward. Hughes moves more diagonally to his landing point. Do you have a preference? Is this part of pitcher's mechanics material?
   23. James Darnell's #1 Fan Posted: August 16, 2007 at 05:12 PM (#2487513)
Great work as always, CBW, love reading your stuff, being a pitcher over here at Mexico I can tell you that I have learned more from you than any of the coaches I've had over here and actually gained 5 mph's on my FB by not standing over the rubber like I used to. Thanks a lot my good man.
Also, I've been asking you to do this for a while now, and saw you saying in another thread that you would have like to to a piece on Peavy... is that still in your mind? I would love to read it. Thanks again. Keep up the good work.
   24. James Darnell's #1 Fan Posted: August 16, 2007 at 05:13 PM (#2487515)
And of course when I say "to to" I mean "to do"
   25. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 17, 2007 at 02:36 AM (#2488446)

One difference between Chamberlain and Hughes I noticed is how they move their left leg. Chamberlain drops his down and then forward. Hughes moves more diagonally to his landing point. Do you have a preference? Is this part of pitcher's mechanics material?


I went and checked it out more and don't see as much difference as you. To me it looks like Joba goes up, then down with the leg at around a 90 degree angle and as his hips move forward it goes around into footplant. Hughes has a similar move, just slower because his tempo is lower and he seems to hesitate at the top.

that I have learned more from you than any of the coaches I've had over here and actually gained 5 mph's on my FB by not standing over the rubber like I used to.

That about makes my day. BTW, did you see the Edwar Ramirez one with the overlays? When I do the Peavy article, it'll be a megaarticle with an overlay of his sinker/slider combo. Right now, my board of projects looks like this:
Zito, Draft Review article, Nolan Ryan/Bob Gibson, Peavy....others....
   26. frannyzoo Posted: August 18, 2007 at 12:00 AM (#2489790)
These threads are the most informative and interesting of any I read at BBTF. In fact, I'm kinda feel guilty I don't have to pay for them. And I hate to pay for stuff on the 'Net. Chad, I'm no business plan guy, but there's gold in them thar virtual hills. Gold, I tells ya.
   27. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 18, 2007 at 01:14 AM (#2490019)
Donations are always welcome...LOL just kidding dude. Thanks, here's hoping someone notices soon.
   28. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 18, 2007 at 01:21 AM (#2490036)
Going back up the thread a little -- the Yankees fully intend for Chamberlain to be a starting pitcher. I expect he'll be in contention for a starting job next spring.

They're using him out of the bullpen this year because they could use the help.
   29. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: August 18, 2007 at 01:55 AM (#2490122)
They're using him out of the bullpen this year because they could use the help.

And he was nearing his innings cap anyway.
   30. pep21 Posted: August 18, 2007 at 07:25 AM (#2490419)
Carlos have you seen the eerie similarity between Joba and Clemens when Joba breaks his hands and begins his downward desend towards to plate? Joba, has outstanding explosion to the plate from that point on.

Keep up your great work!
   31. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 18, 2007 at 11:50 AM (#2490437)
I don't get why people continue to compare Hughes to Clemens. It's not even close. If you want a Clemens comp, Joba is MUCH closer to what Clemens does than Phil. I betcha that if I dug up some young Clemens video, Joba would be eerily similar.
   32. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: August 18, 2007 at 03:59 PM (#2490526)
I concur with the Clemens style comp. I find it kinda eerie, too. Even carry their glove alike at the end of an inning.
   33. _Kirk_ Posted: August 18, 2007 at 08:29 PM (#2490677)
Glad to see the Clemens comparisons - that was the first thing I thought when I saw the video of Joba, how similar he looked to Clemens in terms of mechanics. Carlos, any chance you can do a side-by-side of Joba and Clemens?
   34. Keith Law Posted: August 18, 2007 at 08:43 PM (#2490687)
Jimmy P - sorry I'm late on this, but I believe the Yanks have every intention of returning him to the rotation next year. They view him as a #1 starter, and I agree.
   35. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 18, 2007 at 09:04 PM (#2490700)
I've considered Hughes more of a Mussina comp than Clemens.
   36. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: August 19, 2007 at 10:00 AM (#2491318)
I betcha that if I dug up some young Clemens video, Joba would be eerily similar.

That's very enlightened of you, to compare a white pitcher to a black pitcher.

Wait, what?
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 19, 2007 at 11:10 AM (#2491322)
So... Chamberlain:Clemens::Lincecum:Hershiser? Who's out there doing their best Dwight Gooden impression?
   38. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 19, 2007 at 02:19 PM (#2491347)
Lincecum:Hershiser? Is that what BBTN said? Not even close....
   39. XV84 Posted: August 19, 2007 at 05:59 PM (#2491474)
That's very enlightened of you, to compare a white pitcher to a black pitcher.

Wait, what?


Joba is black? He's Native American.


Mussina isn't even close to Hughes.

Lincecum reminds me of Don Sutton with his arm and glove action as well as the sweeping leg. Yovani Gallardo is similar to Lincecum as well, minus the reverse rotation and stride. They both have the same arm slot. CBW can you do a side-by-side of Lincecum and Gallardo?
   40. XV84 Posted: August 19, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2491537)
Oh, and Joba isn't close to Clemens. He's closer to Brett Tomko.
   41. rene144 Posted: August 20, 2007 at 02:25 AM (#2491942)
one thing that we really agree on is that it's critical for a pitcher to move quickly once he starts for the plate. Guys who hesitate as they're coming forward or as they're landing sacrifice both velocity and command.


This is quite interesting. The MLBEA is being held currently in Europe (duh, EA stands for European Academy!) and I've had a chance to talk to the coaches. Bruce Hurst is acting as the pitching coach. When I asked him what they try to do in their month or so (I assumed they couldn't do much) he replied that they don't really try to revolutionize pitchers' approaches because that could screw them up. Keep in mind we're talking about teenagers, ranging from 15 to 19, so they're very raw, but they have some talent.

Hurst continued and said that what they really try to do is to make their deliveries smoother. They don't have time to take a look at arm actions, so they just try to get pitchers to stay focused and throw to the plate, channelling their momentum going forward. He said that if you have a smooth delivery once you start your motion, that's going to give you healthy mechanics because you're not "ripping" with your movement as much and chances are that most things will just fall into place. He was conceding that momentum isn't all there is to pitching, but it's the most important thing. He didn't care at all about how fast a pitcher moved, as long as he didn't stop or slow down at any point before release, and he tried to prevent guys from falling toward first or third, but carrying their weight forward and getting behind the pitch.

They're only staying here one month per year and that's all they can do. They did get a couple of guys cracking the 90's and most of them threw in the upper 80's. Of course they kept the younger ones away from breaking balls, but they managed to get this talented 16 year old to throw in the 90's, and apparently he's getting signed by an MLB organization later this year (I haven't been tipped on which team it is, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out it's the Reds or Mariners, who have been very active here). The EA has produced 11 guys who have already signed (the most advanced are a couple of friends of mine in A, but they only signed last year), and 4 or 5 more will sign this year. I really wish there could be more talk about the growth of European talent because this is virgin territory, and even though it's nowhere like the Caribbean, it could really provide a new and fresh pool of talent. Plus the real problem here is that players just don't play enough to nurture their talent. You get really talented and nice players who happen to have huge holes in their game in the long term because of the lack of play and training from good coaches, which is a shame.

I hope there will be more noise about this. In the meantime we're left hoping that Balentien, Jurrjens and even VandenHurk (and of course all the like) look at least presentable, which will encourage investments I guess.

FWIW the best product that has been at the academy so far is Alessandro Maestri, 22 years old, RHP closing for the Peoria Chiefs (Cubs A). He's been amazing as a reliever (especially with runners on, thanks to his DP-inducing sinker) and had 4 poor starts. Really hard sinker, good slider and touching mid-90's on the 4-seam fastball. Some platoon issues. Last year, he threw at 88-89. And you can see the damage of not playing: both last year and this year he had absolutely amazing starts and then came a little down to Earth when fatigue set in. One year in the US did him better than the rest of his life...
   42. James Darnell's #1 Fan Posted: August 20, 2007 at 04:38 PM (#2492285)
did you see the Edwar Ramirez one with the overlays? When I do the Peavy article, it'll be a megaarticle with an overlay of his sinker/slider combo. Right now, my board of projects looks like this:
Zito, Draft Review article, Nolan Ryan/Bob Gibson, Peavy....others....


Yes, yes I did saw the Ramirez article; can't wait to see all the others you have in mind, as I said before I have learned a lot just by reading your material.

Good luck on someone noticing soon!.
   43. Mash Posted: August 20, 2007 at 11:09 PM (#2492813)
CBW just wanted to say that I absolutley love your work. I think its the best on the internet by far. I was wondering if you could give your thoughts on why you think the Orioles closer Chris Ray had to have Tommy John Surgery. Do you think it was mechanics or just bad luck?
   44. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: August 21, 2007 at 12:01 AM (#2492889)
Rene144-

excellent post and thank you for the information.

Peavy's #1 fan--
you said you're pitching in mexico? Can I get your name (you can do it through e-mail if you'd like) so that I can track your progress (assuming I can find stats?)

Mash--
Thanks. Ya know when I look at Chris Ray, I would've thought that he was due more for shoulder troubles than elbow issues. Ray has "messy" mechanics, although I certainly like his quick tempo. That said, he does put on the brakes on his arm quickly (quick deceleration is not good in my book) and he doesn't seem to pronate very well either. If you look at his arm after release, even his hand shows a supinated look (thumb up instead of thumb down). I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

Ya know how if you're using a hammer and you miss the nail, the elbow "locks out" and you get pain in the UCL? If you don't pronate properly you don't protect the elbow from locking out...that would be my guess as to Ray's trouble.
   45. XV84 Posted: August 21, 2007 at 02:40 AM (#2493032)
Cris Ray had a lot of reverse rotation as well as bringing the ball way behind him just like Octavio Dotel. The high sidearm/ low 3/4 release point didn't help either.
   46. XV84 Posted: January 13, 2008 at 09:53 PM (#2667430)
Joba and Tomko side by side: http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa173/xvue84/pitching clips/jobaVStomkoarmactionslow.gif

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