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Pitching Newsbeat

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Searching for Under-Used Breaking Pitches with PITCHf/x – The Hardball Times

Great stuff.

McHugh threw 47.1 innings with the Mets and Rockies between 2012 and 2013, and his pitch selection looked something like this: 56 percent fastballs, 39 percent breaking balls (curve ball and slider), and five percent change-ups. McHugh relied primarily on his hard stuff, complemented it with some breaking balls, and threw in the occasional change-up, a pretty standard plan of action for a starting pitcher.

The Houston Astros, however, saw something more. Something about those breaking balls caught their eye: They had a ridiculous amount of spin on them. This discovery was brought to light in a recent piece in Business Week:

Jim Furtado Posted: December 02, 2014 at 08:11 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, sabermetrics

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Here’s What Happens When A Pitcher Throws A Meatball

The batter asks for some spaghetti to go with that meatball.

But all types of meatballs hurt somehow. The off-speed ones aren’t swung at as often, but when hitters do make contact, they’re clobbering the ball. The fastball variety, meanwhile, do entice a hitter to take a swing, leading to a ball that’s more likely to find its way around the defense. And whether it’s a fastball or an off-speed pitch, meatballs are still the most homer-friendly pitch I’ve seen.

The more I looked into the meatball, the more it confirmed my suspicion: no matter the particulars, it’s the bad pitch we assumed it was.

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 13, 2014 at 08:08 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching

Friday, August 08, 2014

Decline of the Curve

The fans laughed at the batter as he slunk back to the dugout, where he was greeted with his own teammates’ laughter and derision. Steineke shouted toward the opposing team’s bench, “That’s all right, Sonny. It ain’t over for you yet. You still got time to call Daddy, tell him you’ll be home in time for bailing hay, because, #######, Daddy, I ain’t never gonna be able to hit that f—-ing pitch.”
[...]
In early March, I drove down to Orlando, Fla., on an expedition to discover how, why and when the Unfair One became extinct. Who killed it? What killed it?

Even by Pat Jordan’s standards, this is a very good piece.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 08, 2014 at 07:49 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: general, history, pitches, pitching

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball

“The word on the street is that the screwball is hard on the arm,” says Don Cooper, Chicago’s pitching coach. “But listen, there’s no documentation on that. Maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t throw it, but I believe no pitch is any more dangerous than any other if you have a good delivery. If you have a bad delivery, every pitch is freakin’ dangerous.”

Among baseball lifers, though, Cooper’s is decidedly a minority opinion. Lurid stories about the pitch are commonplace. “We’d be on the bus and see a guy out the window whose arm was turned out,” McCarver said, “and we’d say: ‘Yup. Old screwballer.’ ”

Jerry Dipoto, the Angels’ general manager, told me that Carl Hubbell used to visit the Giants’ training camp after his retirement. “Legend has it he’d walk in and his arm was backward,” he said. “He couldn’t get it to come back around to the appropriate position because of all the years of pronating from throwing the pitch.”

Just how a screwball causes injury was open to debate. “Too hard on the shoulder,” insisted Arizona’s manager, Kirk Gibson. “The elbow,” said the former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. Even Santiago acknowledged the possibility: “They told me it’s bad for my wrist.” He keeps throwing the pitch, he said, “because you don’t hear much about pitchers hurting their wrists.”

Never mind all those pitchers who kept using it into their late 30s and 40s, or that Valenzuela, at 53, maintains he can throw it today. When I spoke to players and coaches about the screwball, the expectation of certain injury was never far from the conversation.

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: July 10, 2014 at 03:35 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, screwball

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hayhurst: An Insider’s Guide to Baseball’s Mysterious ‘Eephus’ Pitch

We, LaRoche’s pitching staff in 2009, had reached Triple-A by way of throwing hard. Hundreds of thousands of reps had already been logged trying to execute with fast, late-moving, sharp-acting ammo. Even if we rolled out of bed and played catch, we’d still be doing it harder than The Lob’s max velocity.

Our bodies were used to a natural velocity far exceeding the effort the normal human would put into a throw. When we wound up and lobbed the pitch, more than one of us threw the ball completely over the catcher’s head.

“How the hell do you have time to master this without getting your brains beat in? What’s the point?” we’d grumble after lobbing the ball out of the bullpen and into the outfield.

“If it’s that hard for you to adjust” said Roachey, “think of how hard it is for the hitter to adjust.”

bobm Posted: June 21, 2014 at 11:18 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: eephus, pitching

Fangraphs: Mixing Pitches, Situationally

league averages. Let’s establish a baseline:

Bases Empty: 63% fastballs (cutters included)
Runner(s) On: 61% [...]

I looked at every pitcher who’s thrown at least 1,000 pitches since the start of 2013. The following graph plots their relevant fastball rates. The sample pool numbers nearly 400 [...]

Out of the pool, 24 pitchers have decreased their fastball rates by at least 10 percentage points with runners on base.

bobm Posted: June 21, 2014 at 10:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching

 

 

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