Thursday, July 10, 2014
“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.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
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.”
Posted: June 21, 2014 at 11:18 AM | 7 comment(s)
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.
Posted: June 21, 2014 at 10:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
Friday, June 20, 2014
Orioles starters have trouble getting batters to swing at pitches out of the zone, particularly Ubaldo Jimenez:
“Hitters swing at only 24.5% of Jimenez’s pitches out of the zone, fewer than one out of four. This is great, because he throws out of the zone so rarel—err, no, wait, he throws out of the zone 53.6% of the time. Dang.”
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Why balls do what they do.
Thursday, June 05, 2014
Inside the head of a veteran thinking man’s pitcher.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Pitching is feel. Your hand and the ball is a marriage that should never end. The pitcher and the ball should be married forever. Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever. It’s like caressing your wife. It’s touching and getting that feel to know her, alone.
I don’t care if you are Pedro Martinez, stay away from my wife.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Everything old is new again.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
This [http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/4/28/5659720/first-inning-pitch-count-runs-trade-off] is an outstanding question. Would you rather be down 1 run, with your starting pitcher having thrown no more than 10 pitches, or would you rather throw a scoreless inning, but your starting pitcher having thrown at least 40 pitches?
Posted: May 01, 2014 at 12:28 AM | 13 comment(s)
Friday, April 25, 2014
As the recent rash of season-ending injuries indicates, we’re a long way from figuring out when a pitcher is about to break. Not every injury is preceded by a warning sign, and not every red flag reveals a real problem. Many pitcher injuries are the result of cumulative wear and tear, but the process often culminates in one pitch, followed by a pop or a sharp pain and an arm clutched tightly on the trip back to the dugout. From there, it’s just a matter of time until the Twitpic from the operating table.
What if teams could anticipate and avoid the delivery that pushes the pitcher too far? Could early detection, early removal, and time off for rest and rehab preserve a ligament that’s on its last legs but hasn’t yet passed the point of no return?
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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
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.
Posted: February 20, 2014 at 07:52 PM | 16 comment(s)
Friday, February 14, 2014
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?
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