I’ve been listening to “HomePlate” on XM radio 175 a lot lately in the car. Between this and reading Buster Olney’s great ESPN blog, I feel like I’m able to stay current enough for the questions lobbed at me during my guest gig Thursday mornings (6:35PT) on the same XM channel.
Anyway, a couple interesting pitching things have come up through this process. The first thing I’d like to mention was a great interview Kevin Kennedy had with Royals pitching coach Bob McClure a couple days ago.
McClure seems like an excellent pitching coach and he said a couple things that I think bear repeating. The first idea surprised the heck out of me but made a ton of sense. He was sharing his philosophy of warming up before games and how it relates to his staff’s stamina over the course of a season.
Basically McClure tries to limit his starters to 30-35 pitches before a game. He said Cy Young winner Zack Greinke averaged closer to 25 and has started games with as little as 18 warm ups! 18 warm up pitches! Fantastic. McClure made the point that over the course of a 35 start season, this saves each pitcher about 700 game speed pitches. (This is assuming the last 20 or so pitches a guy throws in the bullpen are equivalent stress-wise to a game situation.) He’s talking about saving 7 outings worth of pitches by being thrifty in the pen. I like it a lot.
The second thing I loved about the interview was when McClure revealed his keys to pitching success. And that was – in order of importance – command, movement, and then velocity. Very wise words to aspiring pitchers (and catchers trying to help pitchers). Location, movement, then velocity. Success on the bump is all about throwing the ball where you want to with some movement.
The last thing I want to mention came from host Jeff Nelson on the XM show this morning. He asked my thoughts on whether or not Steve Strasburg should skip the minor leagues. I started to ramble on a bit and Jeff brought up the point of understanding how to attack hitters and calling a game. Great observation.
I’m not positive, but if San Diego State was like 99.9% of the teams in amateur baseball right now, it’s quite possible that Strasburg has never called his own game before. In other words, he may have no clue on how to attack hitters…much less big league hitters. Yes, he’s got Ivan Rodriguez back there to take most of the pressure off, but there’s no way he’s going to hold his hand every outing. The fact is, Strasburg better have a clue and if that means going down to the minor leagues to figure it out, so be it.
Then again, maybe Tony Gwynn at SDSU didn’t call pitches and Strasburg already has an idea. In that case, it’s just a question of whether he has the stamina to handle a big league workload and has the resilience to deal some failure. It’s gonna be interesting.