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Thread: Knowing how to pitch

  1. #1
    Haunted by walks
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    Knowing how to pitch

    There's something I've been wondering about for a long time. You hear about pitchers who throw hard, and other pitchers who just know how to pitch. You especially hear about pitchers who once threw hard, but then they learned how to pitch.

    What I wonder is, what's there for a pitcher to know that another pitcher doesn't? Why doesn't the catcher know, and why can't you put it in a book and teach everybody?

    Is the wise old Yoda of a pitcher shaking off sign after sign until the catcher calls for the right pitch in the right place? If so, why is the catcher so stupid?

    Shouldn't all the pitchers on a team have pretty much the same knowledge base?
    Last edited by BCubb2003; 05-17-2006 at 01:54 AM.

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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Good question, but I think easily answered: Half of the game is 90% mental.

    OK, in reality though, there is no perfect way to pitch. Take Greg Maddux, he is one of the "really knows how to pitch" type of guys. The way you pitch changes every AB. If it were in a book, hitters would read it and know how the pitcher thinks. If it was always consistant, the hitters would know. But, it is a huge mental part of the game; "Knowing how to pitch."

    I'm going out on a limb saying that I think Randy Johnson is going to struggle because he fired in 95 mph fastballs, and the filthiest sliders to get guys out. Now he doesn't have either weapon as well as he did before. Our favorite guy Joe Morgan said that RJ has always known how to pitch, but I am going to disagree. He has lost velocity and now isn't getting guys out, because he doesn't know how to out-witt these guys yet.

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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by AvesIce51
    OK, in reality though, there is no perfect way to pitch. Take Greg Maddux, he is one of the "really knows how to pitch" type of guys. The way you pitch changes every AB. If it were in a book, hitters would read it and know how the pitcher thinks. If it was always consistant, the hitters would know. But, it is a huge mental part of the game; "Knowing how to pitch."
    So what is it that Greg Maddux is telling the catcher from the mound, and is the catcher constantly smacking himself on the forehead saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"?

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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003
    So what is it that Greg Maddux is telling the catcher from the mound, and is the catcher constantly smacking himself on the forehead saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"?
    I'm sure Barrett when healthy is usually on the same page as Maddux, if not, Barrett gives way to whatever GM says because he is Greg Maddux. Maddux hasn't been perfect though, so it's not like it is a guarentee that he will pitch well and make the right calls. Maddux only uses 3 pitches anyway, and Barrett should have a very good idea of what to call.

  6. #5
    Member The Baumer's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Knowing how to pitch has to do with setting up hitters with pitch selection, hitting your location, and using every resource/advantage that is available to you as a pitcher. The reason every pitcher isn't reading the Know How to Pitch book is because some of them can afford to be lazy and get by on their stuff alone. When you get older and your stuff goes down the tubes you are forced to use strategy to your advantage if you want to stick around.

  7. #6
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    This is just my opinion so it's most likey wrong.

    It's often said when a pitcher is no longer able to just blow the ball by hitters he must learn how to pitch.

    1. must have good control/command.
    2. must be able to change speeds.
    3. must be able to change release points or arm motion.

    I quess when they learn to keep hitters off balance is when they learn how to pitch.

  8. #7
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Knowing how to pitch means being able to hide Crisco, Vagisil, and Bardol on your body. Any one of those will give you another two to three inches of drop on your curve ball. Of course, if the umps are watching you closely, you can put a little jalapeno up your nose...

    As far as "knowing how to pitch," most pitchers do. The ones with overpowering stuff, like Randy Johnson, know how to mix fastballs with hard sliders and how to locate their pitches. When those guys get older and start to lose their stuff, they've got to *re-learn* how to pitch. It's not that they never "knew" how to pitch, it's just that conditions have changed and what they knew before is no longer applicable.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Also involves knowing the hitters and being able to understand, at bat by at bat and sometimes swing by swing, what a hitter is trying to do.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

  10. #9
    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Pitching is an art and a science. The science part does appear in books or resides with pitchers and pitching coaches--mechanics, grips, fundamental "truths" of pitching (e.g. location, changing speeds). The artistry is the variable, which is essentially an ongoing game of chess that some are good at and some are not. Some it comes naturally to (I'd say Maddux is a good example of that) and others are learning in a mentor relationship (Arroyo watching Pedro).
    Can't win with 'em

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  11. #10
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    I don't think there is a "knows how to pitch" in the absolute sense. It's not just a fact like "a 94 mph fastball should be located at the knees on the outside corner" because if that's what the guy is looking for, it's not going to get him out. Rather, it's a guy being able to use his stuff for maximum effect. The specific "what" isn't fixed -- It varies from one pitcher to the next.

    Knowing how to pitch and having great stuff are independant. You can get away with just having amazing stuff (Kerry Wood) or just "knowing how to pitch" (Jamie Moyer), but the best pitchers do both (Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt). The advantage of knowing how to pitch is that it doesn't go away -- great stuff does; just ask Greg Maddux.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  12. #11
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Sometimes I think that one of the hardest and best things for a pitcher to learn is flexibility. You have to be dedicated enough to study tapes of hitters and determine what will work with them, but then you also have to be able to be loose and flexible on the mound, take cues from the catcher about what may be going on with a particular batter, change your pitches and your speed at the last minute. And that includes long-term flexibility as well -- accepting at some point that your fastball is no longer getting the job done and you need to find other ways around that.

    A great example of this this season, actually, is Mike Mussina. Mussina has the blessing and the curse of being an incredibly smart guy, and when his stuff started to naturally disappear a bit a couple of years ago due to age, I think he thought too much through it and allowed it to panic him. This year, he really seems to be in a groove, open to learning new stuff, putting more thought into the placement of his pitches, but not freaking out about anything. His speed has deteriorated, but he's allowed his repertoire to open up. As long as he stays healthy, this will definitely extend his career. Martinez is a very smart pitcher which is why he keeps staying around longer than people expect, longer than his physical abilities should allow. Johnson, as somebody said, is the antithesis of that -- so far, much too stubborn to accept that his physical ability alone will not allow him to continue pitching the way he always has.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  13. #12
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick
    The advantage of knowing how to pitch is that it doesn't go away -- great stuff does; just ask Greg Maddux.
    I'd argue that when your great stuff goes away, so does your knowledge of how to use that stuff. You have to re-learn how to pitch with a 92-mph fastball instead of a 97-mph fastball.

    Guys like Maddux and Moyer always had pinpoint control, so the absence of a dominating fastball didn't really affect them like it would affect a Randy Johnson or a Jason Schmidt.

    Like you said, it's about a guy knowing how to use his stuff to maximum effect.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    How does the pitcher express this wisdom to the catcher? If the catcher calls for a fastball up and in, does the pitcher's wisdom prompt him to throw a different kind of fastball up and in than he would have before he got wise? Or does he shake off the catcher until the catcher calls for a wiser pitch in this situation? If the pitcher is shaking off the catcher often enough that you can tell you've got a smart pitcher on the mound, then why is the catcher so unwise?

  15. #14
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    There are some pitchers who have no clue how to pitch, but they are really good at throwing certain types of pitches. They rely on the catcher to call the game and use their stuff effectively. Then there are some pitchers who know exactly what they want to do and will shake off the catcher, or meet ahead of time to discuss how they want to approach it.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  16. #15
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    Re: Knowing how to pitch

    I think it's about learning how to use what you have. Control your velocity, mix up your pitches, condition yourself for maximum stamina, etc. Doing all you can with what you're given.


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