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Welcome To Paul Nyman Week, Vol 1: “Pitching Mechanics vs Pitcher Training”

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  1. Zita Carno says:

    It has been said that if you take a thoroughbred race horse and train it to run one New York City block, that’s all the horse will be able to do. Any more than that and said horse is a candidate for the glue factory. The same goes for pitchers—and those ridiculous pitch counts.
    Take a look at, for instance, the Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain. Because of his youth he was placed on a strict pitch count, despite the fact that initially he had been very effective as a starter—a real innings eater. Because of this pitch count he was never permitted to go more than five innings, and ultimately he was stuck in the bullpen. An inning, maybe two—and he fell by the wayside. Now his future is extremely doubtful, because despite his strength and ability he was never permitted to go more than five innings. One walk, or one base hit, or one hit-by-pitch, and out he came. So what are the Yankees going to do with him? I’ve seen this happen with so many talented young pitchers; because of this insistence on babying them and protecting their young arms, never challenging them or giving them the opportunity to extend themselves, the end result has been a definite weakening of pitching staffs around the majors. Even someone like Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia has become a virtual prisoner of the pitch count. Contrast that with, to give another example, Al Leiter, who could and did pitch 130 or more innings at any time and never break a sweat. And Whitey Ford, who told his bullpen “I’m going all the way tonight; you guys can rest”, would set up a long table in the bullpen with a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth and an empty Chianti bottle with a lighted candle in it and order a whole passel of huge hero sandwiches and coffee so his relievers could be comfortable and enjoy a nice meal while he went out there and pitched a two-hit shutout. I saw that many times.
    Where have those times gone? I have also seen, more times than I can count, situations wherein a pitcher runs into a jam and instead of allowing him to try and pitch his way out of it the manager or pitching coach runs out to the mound, signals for a lefthander (or a righthander) and takes the ball and sends the pitcher back to the dugout. The substitute pitches to one batter, and out he comes, bring in another one—so everybody gets to see Whole Staff! And for what? Let me quote another example: a Kansas City Royals reliever named Louis Coleman, a hard-throwing righthanded sidearmer who uses the crossfire extensively. There’s a guy who could pitch five or six innings—maybe more if given a chance, because he really knows how to pitch—but his manager limits him to one batter, or maybe one inning: and for no other reason than poor Mr. Coleman is in the manager’s doghouse and his manager doesn’t like him. Maybe the guy doesn’t like sidearmers? Or is it just general principles? This I will never understand.
    In any case, too many pitchers are being done a disservice.

  2. Goose says:

    Great read!!! I have been saying for years that I wish they went back to the 4 man rotation and got rid of the pitch count in MLB. Now we talk about throwing hard which would condition your body for it. (I agree). But we also teach our kids not to throw curveballs, so could we be wrong with that? That really they would be training the arm to throw them?…..who knows…I won’t be letting my kid throw the curveball just because I said so 🙂 and he needs to throw strikes first. Thanks for writing I look forward to your next post.

  3. Zita Carno says:

    Goose, the main problem is that the cart is being put before the horse. I’ve said this several times, and I don’t care if I’m repeating myself because it’s a major problem. Kids are being inundated with mechanics this and mechanics that, four-seam fastballs this and difficult changeups that, when they haven’t even learned how to throw the crap out of the ball. A kid has to learn to do that—throw with intent—before he can even think about pitching, and the reverse is what’s been happening. I had a pretty nice little curveball at age 11; it came attached to my natural sidearm delivery, but that was not a problem, because even before I discovered that delivery I had been throwing, playing catch a lot, and so when I discovered that curve I was ready to say to myself “let me see what I can do with it.”
    You’re right—we should go back to the four-man rotation and get rid of the pitch count, and coaches and managers need to rethink their approach to working with pitchers!

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