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Stephen Strasburg wants his pitches to look less cool

Feb 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Stephen Strasburg

There’s a lot of piffle in spring training coverage. The old cliches we make fun of, a lot of empty talk about pitch tipping, adjustment-making, stance-tweaking and, of course, what kind of shape everyone is in. Rare, though, are the spring training stories that make you go “hmm, neat. I hadn’t considered that.”

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has one today, however, and it’s about how Stephen Strasburg is making some changes to his pitches. Specifically, he wants them to do what, to casual fans anyway, seems counter-intuitive for a pitcher with the kind of movement Strasburg puts on his pitches: he wants them to move and break less:

The crazy movement can be hell on hitters, of course. But the big breaks in his pitches also make it easier for batters to differentiate between them. When a pitch breaks a lot, it probably starts breaking early, allowing a hitter to follow its path to the plate. Strasburg would prefer to have his pitches move less, but with more purpose.

Just the kind of thing you don’t think about too much. Which makes for a “tweak in the mechanics” story that’s actually interesting and may have some impact on the season.

  1. pistolpete31 - Feb 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I wouldn’t be worrying how my pitches look with his arm and stats.

  2. chacochicken - Feb 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    I worry about every pitch he throws with that wrist under elbow wind up.

  3. cur68 - Feb 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Reducing the break will probably also put less stress on his shoulder, I would think. This may be as much to do with fooling batters as it does with preserving the Strasburg arm.

  4. jarathen - Feb 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    He’s talking about the Jered Weaver approach. Weaver isn’t about making people miss and look foolish so much as he is about making his pitches look and “feel” similar, so that batters bite and launch a lazy fly ball into the outfield. Not saying Strasburg is going for extreme fly ball tendencies, but it sounds like a similar strategy.

  5. historiophiliac - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    When I saw the headline, I was hoping that the post was about changing his “release face.” So disappointing.

  6. DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Have to agree with that approach – if you rely on big sweeoing stuff, eventually guys have your pitches down. But the pitchers that have tiny movement right at the end, those are the pitchers who keep guys guessing

  7. polonelmeagrejr - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    good story. It’s good to learn.

  8. Old Gator - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    With everyone sitting around hawk-eyed watching for the slightest hint of PED, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a lot of these guys stuffing their hollowed-out bats with piffle before gluing the heads back on.

  9. 12strikes - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Steven should talk to Mike Rizzo, he made Steven’s pitches looked pretty un-cool after Sept 7

  10. danaking - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    I live in the DC suburbs, but have not been a Nats fan, mainly because I think the ownership and upper management are tools. Davey Johnson has long been a favorite of mine, and they have a lot of players who are easy to like, Strasburg high in that group. He strikes me as someone who not only has sick talent, but is personable and smart, too. I hope he gets to achieve his potential. He’ll be fun to watch.

    • whereispervyharvin - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      i was kinda in same boat as you, not really fan of management. Agree with what u say, im a fan bcuz there is so many likeable guys on the team. They r fun to watch….hope u root for them this year!

  11. Kevin Gillman - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    The best quote I read about Strasburg was from Bob Feller back in 2010. “Call me when he wins 100 Major League games”.

    I am not discounting what Strasberg can bring, but it is telling that he gets this much attention, and he hasn’t even won 20 games yet in the Major Leagues.

    I miss Bob Feller, he always had those great quotes.

    • Kevin Gillman - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      I stand corrected, he now has 21 Major League wins, but the rest of the comment stands.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        You could have won $100 from me….21? I was positive that was wrong – POSITIVE!

        Wow, that does put it in perspective….I am convinced the guy is for real, but that is amaizing to think how green he still is

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        I think he can be special too, but anything can happen between now, and that 100th MLB win. Let’s hope he does well, but Bob had it right all along…LOL

      • whereispervyharvin - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM

        lol…he hasn’t even played a full season yet. Yes anything can happen. Dude has top 5 MLB pitching talent. He gets respect from the best hitters in the game. The guy works hard and is Hungry, think he has a really big year. Prob almost doubles his total wins

        P.S. u sound just as batshit loco as Bob Feller lol

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 18, 2013 at 8:51 PM

        I guess we will see, but let’s not put this guy in the elite category just yet. He hasn’t worked 200+ IP in a season, nor has he won 20, or even taken his team to the World Series. Hitters will adjust to him, so what happens then? Like I said before though, I am interested to see what he does this season. But he’s not the best pitcher in baseball, that still belongs to Justin Verlander.

  12. clydeserra - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    “starts breaking too early?”

    So the pitch defies the laws of physics?

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