What happened to the pitching

World series time, the anticipation for last nights pitching mach up was huge, and it failed to deliver big time. The big question is why? Time off. Athletes especially pitchers are creatures of habit or routine, and when we get to the post season it is completely disrupted for television and series’ ending at different points. It is somewhat counterintuitive to think that 9 days off wouldn’t help the pitchers, but it doesn’t. They get out of their routines. The pitchers last night were stronger, but their location/command was way off. Instead of being on the edges of the plate, they were off the plate or in the middle of it which is going to get whacked by Major League hitters. Cutters, breaking balls, off-speed won’t have the same bite or movement. Plus off-speed pitches are “feel” pitches, when you are use to throwing them with a certain strength level, then that strength level is different the feel will be different. If we get to a game 5 when these two guys are scheduled to match up again, we should see a different ball game with the year of the pitcher returning.

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Lowe & Bobby

Watching the Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants game last night, Bobby Cox came to the mound ready to take Lowe out with runners on 1st and 2nd. When he got there Lowe was fired up and said he wanted to stay in, so Cox left his pitcher in ( who by the way was working on a 2-hit shut-out at the time). After Lowe walked the next guy and was removed, it got me to thinking “Who hasn’t left a pitcher in, who wanted to keep the ball?” Now looking at all the reports today just killing Bobby on leaving him in, I’m amazed. As coaches we always try to put our players and teams in position to succeed. Bobby didn’t leave him out there thinking it was going to go bad, he gave his guy a chance to continue to throw and succeed for him and the team. It didn’t work-out, the Braves end up losing and their season is now over. More importantly a great manager ended his magnificent career by sticking with his guy. Bobby did that his whole career, and what a career he had. He stuck with Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and the rest of his horses more often than other managers, which is what made him successful. Who hasn’t done exactly what Bobby did last night, it was just magnified because of the situation, and how many games and pennants has he won for the exact reason he is being criticized for now.
On another note, check-out the Sports Science piece on Aroldis Chapman and what allows him to throw the baseball 105. Great segment that includes NPA Founder Dr. Tom House http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/sportscience/index

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Post-Season Pitching

How many times have you heard that the post-season is all about pitching? The pitchers have certainly listened and delivered so far. Halladay throws a no-hitter, Lincecum pitches a complete game shut-out with 14 K’s, Lee comes up big for the Rangers, and Pettite is revived from the dead. All these guys are big game pitchers and have proven their value continually, not just during the regular season but now in the post-season as well. Teams need to have a number of quality arms to make it to the post-season, 162 games is a lot of games and depth is important. However, the post-season is about the horses in the front of the rotation, bullpen depth, with a stud closer. We are just a few games in to the 2010 post-season but it has been great to see how the pitchers have dominated thus far. Pitching has made a huge resurgence this year, now it’s time to watch the Best step-up their game even more. Keep tuning in and watching. This is a great time of year for pitchers.
I’m going to try to post a new blog entry everyday following the games the night before, if you have any questions or topics about pitching during this post-season would love to hear from you.

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Ultimate Learning Enviornment

The best baseball learning environment in the world, takes place at the National Pitching Associations Coaches Certifications. This is when coaches get to learn everything about pitching. You get mechanics, recovery, pitch totals, nutrition, fitness and the mental aspects of what makes pitchers perform better. The high light of the clinic however, is getting to go on-field and put the lessons learned in to practice. That’s right you get to stand by The NPA coaching Staff and Dr. Tom House and see what they/he sees. This experience is invaluable, you will be able to ask questions and get scientific researched answers. I started out 15 years ago with Dr. House in this same manner, he became my mentor, the way this clinic is run is like having him and the NPA staff as your own personal mentor. If you want to be a part of something that makes you a better pitching coach, gives you credibility to the parents and kids you teach, and become a member of the ultimate pitching family click or paste http://www.nationalpitching.com/calendar.asp?

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Lee to the Rangers?

This has been the year of pitcher dominance. As mentioned earlier in a previous post, we are seeing the resurgence of top performances on the mound; perfect games, no-hitters and more.

And now we see one of the top names on the mound today in a trade to Texas. While giving a cellar-sitting tam top outings, Lee was getting the job done for what?

Get the full story here: Lee Goes to Texas

What do you think of Lee’s move to the Rangers? Do you think he will continue to complete games and deliver the goods? Is it a good move for him? We want to know!

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Pitching Resurgence

Are we seeing a return to pitchers dominating?  We’ve seen two perfect games thrown by Halladay of the Phillies and Braden of the A’s. We have Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies putting up ridiculous numbers; E.R.A. sub-1and has won 10 of his first 11 starts. We are also getting ready to experience Strasburg of the Nationals pitching in the majors after breezing through his short minor league career.

Looking for some comments, are we seeing a pitching resurgence and if so why? 

Can’t wait for everyone’s insight .

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Master Change

Pitchers need to command their fastball obviously, that pitch is thrown 65% of the time or more. The next pitch to master is something soft. This pitch could be any variation of a change-up or a splitter. Mastering the change-up will allow you as the pitcher to never become predictable. Anytime a fastball is in order so is a change-up, specifically if you have mastered it. Being able to throw change-ups for strikes, particularly in hitters’ counts 2-0 and 3-1, permit the pitcher to turn the count in his favor by getting the hitters balance and timing disrupted. Hitters are geared up in these counts ready to jump on the fastball, when you pull the string on it the hitter will be out front and hopefully put the ball in play weakly for an out. Bill “Spaceman” Lee use to say you want the ball there before the bat got there, or the ball there after the bat got there, never want ball and bat to be there at the same time. Fastball command and mastering of the change-up will allow us to do just that. As a pitcher we are trying to get outs not strikeouts, the easiest way to get outs is to miss barrels. Taking a little off and adding a little here and there will allow you to miss barrels and keep your pitch count down.

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Do Your Mechanics Change with Different Pitches?

Have you ever wondered why your off-speed pitches aren’t fooling anyone? Take a look at this NPA 3-D motion analysis of a pitcher. http://bit.ly/caGp4p As you can see the pitchers mechanics are very similar with both pitches. However, you can see very easily by the overlay that the pitcher slows down when throwing his change-up. Hitters may not recognize this early, but they will soon figure it out.

Hitters work off the fastball, just like most pitchers do. They are looking for something to be different to “tip” them on what is coming. When a hitter sees a pitcher like this (one slowing his delivery for an off-speed pitch), they immediately know it’s not a fastball, thus slowing down their timing to hit the pitch. Simply put, as a pitcher we want all our pitches thrown with the same mechanics, same timing, and coming from the same release point or tunnel.

Do your mechanics change?

Do your mechanics change?

This is a typical problem with pitchers at all levels. We need to consistently stay on top of our pitchers to make sure everything stays the same. Let the arm take the speed of the pitch, rather than slowing down the body. It may help to have the pitcher or coach/parent count audibly for both pitches so that the pitcher can hear and be reminded to throw with the same timing.

Hope this was helpful! More to come shortly…

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Moyer like cheese…better with age.

Moyer doesn’t throw cheese but has certainly gotten better with age like cheese. He recently became the oldest pitcher to record a shutout in Major League History. Congrats to Moyer, who’s a great example of changing speeds, hitting spots and never throwing the same thing to the hitter. He is a prime example of someone young kids can pattern their game after.


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Pitchers Pitching for Multiple Teams

We all want a healthy and positive experience for our players. We also like to watch our kids compete and be successful, but to what expense if they are a pitcher. All the research out right now is showing that over-use is the major culprit in the arm injury epidemic we are seeing in amateur pitchers. There is a correlation to be drawn here to the explosion of travel ball around the country. Previously the best players played local league ball, then did All-Stars and if they were real lucky had a chance to play fall ball. The total number of organized games annually for the lucky ones would be 30-40. Now with the players playing travel tournament ball, plus travel leagues or continuing to play in local league the kids are playing in 75-90 games or more.

Obviously, someone has to pitch in on all these games. The NPA has established pitching totals for each age group to keep your pitchers healthy. My question to you is “are you keeping record of the number of pitches on a spread sheet or tallying them for weekly and annual totals?” If the answer is yes then you are doing what you need to do as a parent or coach. If the answer is no, you are putting your kid at risk for injury. No one ever got a scholarship or drafted because they threw a no-hitter at 13 years old or had 19 wins. We all need to look long term, not short term for the player’s health and progression in the game. I’m not trying to point any fingers or step on any toes, what I am saying is as a baseball community we need to start putting the kid’s healthiness, ahead of winning. Look, I’m as competitive as the next person, I’ve lost girlfriends from being over competitive, but with the information available I’m not risking a kid’s health to win a game and neither should you.

It’s time coaches and parents step up and so NO, when pitching a kid puts him at risk for injury. Long, injury and surgery free careers are what we all should aspire for our pitchers.

Next how does fitness relate to overuse.

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