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Pitching Newsbeat

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Art of Pitching: Mastering the Sinkerball

My original idea for this story was a simple article discussing how Cumpton was getting advice from Morton and was working on improving his sinker. Add in some numbers from Cumpton last year, and it would be an easy story that I could file away as I tried to get ahead during the early weeks of Spring Training. But after talking with both players, I quickly realized that there was so much I didn’t know about the sinker, and about what players discuss when they’re talking to each other about grips. After over a dozen interviews with nine players and coaches over the last month, I realized how complex something as simple as a sinkerball pitch could be.

Really good technical article about the sinker from Pirates Prospects.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Red Sox add Chris Capuano

The Boston Red Sox on Thursday agreed with left-hander Chris Capuano on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to major league camp, according to a league source.

The deal is pending a physical.

The 35-year-old Massachusetts native has spent all nine of his major league seasons in the National League, the past two with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Publius Publicola Posted: February 20, 2014 at 07:52 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, pitching, red sox

Friday, February 14, 2014

Delaware Online: Roy Halladay Brings a Fresh Perspective.

This year, however, Halladay’s stay in Clearwater will be a shorter one. The recently retired two-time Cy Young winner is a guest instructor at Phillies camp and will stick around for a couple of weeks before heading home.

Both Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. raved about having Halladay around.

“He has been outstanding,” Sandberg said. “This is something he is very good at. Sometimes it is tough as a player to coach and talk to teammates. What I’ve seen is he’s full of knowledge. He’s all in.”

Kind of a puff piece, but it brings to mind some Q’s to which I have no A’s:

(1) Has anybody ever won 2 Cy Youngs without making the HoF eventually?
(2) Why the Phils and not the Jays?

Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 14, 2014 at 02:16 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: phillies, piffle, pitching

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Beyond the Box Score: A.J. Burnett’s career-saving sinker

On a FIP-level, only 11 other 36-year-old starting pitchers have ever mustered a lower FIP than the 2.80 mark Burnett had in 2013 (190 innings minimum). Only five have ever posted a lower FIP-.  Finally, only one other starter has ever struck out batters at a higher clip. I could drop an “but wait, there’s more” line on you, but the point is already clear enough: Burnett’s 2013 season winds up in some darn good territory.

Trying to pin down just a single reason for Burnett’s resurgence is difficult because it’s a mixture of a handful of factors. But we’ll focus on one of the bigger themes, and that’s his increased usage of the sinker since joining the Pirates via trade in February 2012.

bobm Posted: December 28, 2013 at 06:29 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: a. j. burnett, pirates, pitching

Verducci: “How will Masahiro Tanaka’s workload impact his value in MLB?”

Let’s examine the rarity of Tanaka’s workload. In addition to Tanana, only two other pitchers since 1961 have thrown 1,315 major league innings through age 24: Larry Dierker (1964-71) and Bert Blyleven (1970-75).

But what’s even more rare is that he carried an unusually high burden as a teenager. At ages 18 and 19 with the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka threw 359 innings. Only two pitchers in major league history ever threw more innings as a teenager and they did so ages ago: Bob Feller (1936-38) and Pete Schneider (1914-15) [...]

Pitch counts and innings limits have little influence in Japan. Tanaka had nine complete games as a teenager in Japan. Only 13 pitchers in major league history completed nine games as a teenager—none of them in the past 48 years. The most “recent” teens allowed to complete that many games were Dierker (1964-66), Wally Bunker (1963-64), Mike McCormick (1956-58) and Chuck Stobbs (1947-49).

Japanese coaches believe in throwing more than do American pitching experts. However, their pitchers throw with more days of rest (generally every sixth or seventh day rather than the fifth day) in a shorter season against less imposing lineups. Tanaka, for instance, for all of his many innings, never made more than 28 starts in a season for the Eagles.

When pitchers leave Japan for the majors, the more rigorous schedule and lineups tend to exact a toll on them after two or three seasons. Eleven pitchers born in Japan have made 25 starts in a major league season. Only two of them were able to do so more than three times: Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda.

If you raise the bar to 30 starts—and Tanaka will be expected to be that kind of pitcher with the money he will get—Nomo and Kuroda are the only ones to do so more than twice. And Nomo is a more of a cautionary tale: a two-year wonder followed by 10 years a journeyman.

bobm Posted: December 28, 2013 at 06:00 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: masahiro tanaka, pitching

Saturday, November 30, 2013

BtBS: Replacing setup men with “openers”

Starting pitchers aren’t as effective a couple of times through the order, bullpens are getting bigger, and outings are getting a little bit shorter. It’s all part of the continuing shift in baseball away from the rotation, and toward the bullpen.

So let’s stop burying the lede and get it out of the way: I think it couldn’t hurt for teams to experiment with a new bullpen role. We’ve got closers ... I think there’s a good reason at this point to add in the role of the “opener.”

The opener’s role would be the first pitcher to start a game, effectively replacing the starting pitcher for the first frame of a baseball game. After this reliever, ideally a strong setup guy and one of the best relievers on the team, eliminates the first three or four batters of the game, the team’s “starter” comes in beginning in the second inning, and runs his normal course.

bobm Posted: November 30, 2013 at 06:23 PM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: bullpen, pitching, rotation

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unspinning The Mythical Gyroball, The Demon Miracle Pitch That Wasn’t

When America first learned of the gyroball, the popular conception was nothing like what the creators had intended. Chalk it up to a translation error by Carroll, the gyroball missionary. In a 2004 article on Rob Neyer’s blog, he cited a 2001 Japanese book by Kazushi Tezuka and Ryutaro Himeno. The book itself is wild. Filled with fantastical schematics, manga-style drawings, and a wealth of technical information, it looks like nothing so much as a manual for a baseball revolution. And to these Western eyes, it is impenetrable:

(The only accessible information comes via the flipbook animation that runs through the book—rifle the pages, and a pitcher throws a gyroball.)

Carroll admitted up front that he couldn’t read Japanese, but claimed he had nevertheless been able to puzzle out the secrets of the gyroball. He described an effect achieved by coordinating rotations of the hips, shoulder, forearm, and wrist. The result, he wrote, was a pitch that in the right hands was “all but unhittable.”

How can you hit that which doesn’t exist? Mwa ha ha…

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fangraphs/Sullivan: The Season’s Wildest Pitches

See, that’s the difference between you and me. You’d like to mock the pitchers for throwing these pitches. I’d like to commend the umpires for getting every call right.

Before we get to the top five, or the bottom five, whichever, it seems prudent to identify the five runners-up:

•Alfredo Figaro to Brandon Barnes on June 18
•Alfredo Simon to Matt Dominguez on September 18
•Rick Porcello to Ryan Doumit on June 14
•Phillippe Aumont to Travis Snider on July 2
•Ian Kennedy to Pablo Sandoval on April 29

All of those pitches were at least 69.4 inches away from the center of the strike zone, which is nearly six feet. One of them was actually more than six feet away. These are five pitches that didn’t make it. I’m not saying there was a lot of bad baseball in 2013, but what bad baseball there was was truly bad indeed.


villageidiom Posted: October 22, 2013 at 12:40 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: bad pitchers, comedy, gifs, horror movie, pitch framing, pitch fx, pitching, train wrecks



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