I stumbled across this article from June where the Pirates and pitching coach Ray Searage have turned to a different rehab technique for their pitchers. Searage is known as one of the best pitching coaches in the Majors and worked on the idea with head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. At the time of writing, both Gerrit Cole and Ryan Vogelsong were returning from different injuries. Both were able to return to the mound without any major issues.
Cole (strained right triceps) and Vogelsong (facial fractures) are throwing on flat ground from various distances and off the bullpen mound. As they throw, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk monitors their velocity with a radar gun.
”You can’t go over a (specific velocity) number,” Searage said. “That means you’re getting extension but you’re not over-using your arm or trying to overthrow the ball, so your mechanics are (the same as when) you pitch on the mound.”
The method allows pitchers to build arm strength as they heal without the risk of altered mechanics that can come from long toss.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Todd. This is an epiphany. You’re a frigging genius,’ ” Searage gushed.
On flat ground, Cole throws from 60, 70, 80 and 90 feet. At every distance, he is not allowed to exceed about 75 percent of his maximum fastball velocity.
Zach Britton has been filthy this season. The Orioles’ closer hadn’t allowed a single earned run since April until Wednesday night. The streak spanned nearly four months. Over 43 appearances, the left-hander struck out 48 batters and allowed just 33 runners to reach base. Britton’s success isn’t surprising when you see his arsenal of pitches, especially his devastating sinker. He recently joined the MASN Orioles broadcast to discuss his sinker grip and how he attempts to get it to both dive away and cut in. Video is below.
Here’s Britton’s sinker in action:
Trevor Bauer’s sinker has had some of the best horizontal movement of his career this season and it’s been a highly effective pitch against lefties. This excellent article from Fangraphs highlights that further and features a video of Bauer explaining how he manages the pitch’s movement. It involves drawing two large black circles on each side of the ball. The video is below.
The Royals seemingly have a new home-grown ace in left-hander Danny Duffy. The 27-year-old began this season in the bullpen and is now a dark horse Cy Young candidate in the American League. Rustin Dodd of the KC Star chronicled how Duffy bounced back from one of the most ineffective seasons of his career. The process involved developing a new pitch, simplifying his delivery, and a trip to the bullpen which showed him just how dominant his stuff was.
His future as a starting pitcher uncertain, his career at a plateau, Duffy stood in the outfield grass, looking out toward Medlen, some 60 feet away. He gripped the baseball like a fastball, and he chucked it like a football, and even now, one year later, the moment still kind of blows him away.
“It literally was one of the nastiest breaking balls I’ve ever thrown,” Duffy says.
The baseball broke late and darted down, popping into the glove of Medlen. The pitch resembled a slider, and as Medlen caught the ball, he looked back toward Duffy.
“Dude,” Medlen said. “You got to use this in the game.”
I often preach experimentation when it comes to hitting, but the same could be said for pitching. Duffy appears to be proof of that. Even if it doesn’t produce anything, your original way of doing things will always be there to fall back on.