mechanics is the answer to the question of where the Nolan Ryan's
and Tom Seaver's have gone, as well as Justin Verlander's recent injury problems.
Pitching mechanics also explains the struggles of hard-throwing,
but frequently-injured, pitchers like Matt Harvey, Alex Reyes, and
Mark Prior, who were betrayed by their pitching mechanics.
All too predictably.
The problem with the modern approach to pitching mechanics, and developing pitchers, is that there's no free lunch; the
tricks and shortcuts pitchers are being taught DO help
them throw harder, at younger ages, than was previously possible,
but can't help but take a toll.
A toll that is entirely predictable, down to the injury and order.
A toll that even Justin Verlander had to pay as a result of
his decision to abandon the classic, natural, Ryan and Seaver inspired
pitching mechanics that got him where he was.
I don't know what you've heard about my work and me, but
I hope the accuracy of my
predictions about pitchers and injuries, which begin with analyzing
their pitching mechanics, makes it clear I know what I'm talking
about when it comes to pitchers, performance, and mechanics.
Where have all the Nolan Ryan's, Tom Seaver's,
and Greg Maddux's gone?
The best, most durable and dominant pitchers?
They've been coached out of their natural movements.
Just as Justin Verlander was.
Prior to 2020, JV was the only pitcher at the MLB level
who (still) moved naturally.
Like a starting pitcher.
Like Ryan, Seaver, Gibson, Rivera, Maddux and all the
other dominant and durable greats of the past.
And then the conventional wisdom got him.
Ron Wolforth told Verlander he needed to change his
pitching mechanics and become more consistent with the
conventional wisdom, leading him to break.
November 13, 2019
I get into why Verlander came crashing down to earth in detail in
Mechanics: The Problem and
Justin Verlander: What Happened but in this piece I want to discuss
what JV did — or was doing — right.
And what changed.
Best Pitching Mechanics
What pitcher has the best pitching mechanics?
I answer that question at length in my piece that discusses the
mechanics but, in sum, my list of the best pitchers looks for
Using those criteria, my list of the pitchers with the best
pitching mechanics includes...
- Nolan Ryan
- Tom Seaver
- Bob Gibson
- Mariano Rivera
- Greg Maddux
As for modern pitchers?
No, Aroldis Chapman hasn't been completely injury-free. But
that's what you get when you throw 105. Relatively speaking,
compared other super-hard throwers, Chapman has been remarkably
...who I discuss below, at length.
In sum, Verlander is a GREAT example. As long as you ignore 2020.
And, to a lesser degree, his mechanics after 2014.
But I'd put 2009-2013 and 2016-2017 Justin Verlander up there
with Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver, which is why it's so tragic that
Ron Wolforth decided he could improve on Verlander's mechanics.
I've been studying Justin Verlander's pitching mechanics since
2009, seeing in him someone who moved like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver,
and the other greats of the past.
A pitcher who moved completely naturally.
And contrary to the conventional wisdom, as this 2012 clip,
which is one of my favorites and the one that opened my eyes
to the wisdom of Scap
Loading, shows all too well.
And then, in 2014, Justin Verlander got hurt.
In sum, what I think happened in 2014 and 2015 is that the only
thing I don't like about his pitching mechanics, what his
front leg and knee are doing in Frame 89...
...caused a core injury — twice, now — leading
to problems up the kinetic chain.
In 2016, I went to Spring Training hoping to see the Justin
Verlander of old.
I was not disappointed.
So what's so great about the pitching mechanics I saw on display in
When I look at Justin Verlander's 2016 pitching mechanics, I see
a pitching who is moving completely naturally.
Justin Verlander isn't using any of the tricks and shortcuts
that have become established as the conventional wisdom.
In Frame 22, Justin Verlander has completed the Drop portion
of the Drop & Drive movement and is just about to start to
Drive towards home plate.
Frame 70 is where we can see Justin Verlander's excellent
Timing. His front foot is down, his shoulders are just about
to start turning, and his pitching arm is UP and ready to accept
In Frame 81, Justin Verlander's pitching arm is at maximum
External Rotation, laying back towards second base.
In Frame 85, Justin Verlander is just about to release the
ball. Notice that, while some say that pitchers need to keep
both feet on the ground, Verlander's back foot is (slightly) up
in the air, which is perfectly normal.
Frame 89 shows the only concern I have with Justin
Verlander's pitching mechanics; the way he (hyper) extends his
front knee and leg which, I'd suggest, is related to the
problems he has had with his core in 2014 and 2020. While this
works, it's not necessary.
Where to go from Here
I have put together a number of free and other pieces for
people who want to dive into the topic of pitching mechanics.
Pitcher Injury Predictions
Since 2006, I have been making predictions about which
pitchers I think are more, and less, likely to experience injury
I mention this because I believe it establishes that I have a
deep understanding of pitching mechanics and injuries; you have
to understand a system in order to make accurate predictions
Professional Pitcher Analyses
In order to help people understand how major league pitchers
actually throw the ball, I have created a
number of analyses of the
pitching mechanics of major league
baseball pitchers, including...