> Projects > Baseball > Pitching > The Pitching Mechanic > August 2006

The Pitching Mechanic
August 2006

Real-Time Illustrations and Analyses of
Proper and Improper Pitching Mechanics


The Pitching Mechanic - September 2006



Curt Schilling: Great Example of How to Stride

I came across this picture of Curt Schilling this weekend and think it is a great example of how to stride.

First, notice how he is striding with the side of his foot facing the target (and his toe pointed at 3B). This enables him to keep his hips closed as long as possible. Second, notice how low his foot is to the ground. This keeps his shoulders level and also keeps his hips closed as long as possible.



Scott Kazmir: What Happened?

Scott Kazmir is another guy whose mechanics I like who has recently had shoulder problems. As with Mark Mulder, I'm not entirely sure what is going on, but I also think that Scott Kazmir's problems could be related to a very subtle timing flaw.

The photo above suggests a touch of habitual rushing. Notice how his Glove-Side (or GS) elbow is bent and his GS foot is planted, both of which are indications that his shoulders are starting to turn, while his Pitching Arm Side (or PAS) forearm is not yet vertical. This will increase the rate and amount with which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate.

The photo above is also interesting. Notice how far both his PAS and his GS elbows are behind his back. Both of these things indicate that he is starting to rotate his shoulders. Having his PAS elbow so far behind his back will also put a lot of strain on the muscles at the front of his rotator cuff.



Mark Mulder: What Happened?

To be honest, I was surprised by Mark Mulder's recent shoulder problems. I didn't see them coming. Part of the reason for this is that, as you can see the photo below, Mark Mulder keeps his Pitching Arm Side (or PAS) elbow below his shoulder.

Mark Mulder

While I'm still not entirely sure what happened, I think the photo above also provides a clue.
     Notice how in this photo Mulder is pulling his glove-side elbow back and in, and starting to turn his shoulders, while his forearm is not yet vertical and in the high cocked position. This will cause his PAS upper arm to externally rotate especially hard and much. Starting to turn the shoulders early, which is a habitual form of rushing, can also cause the pitcher to leave his pitches up in the zone. I believe that you can see signs of rushing, evidenced by increased numbers of his and home runs, in the statistics for his last 6 starts.



Pitching = Throwing (With Less Margin For Error)

I have said before that I believe that pitching is just throwing with less margin for error. As evidence of why I think this is the case, I give you this photo of Hideki Matsui getting back in shape following his wrist injury.

In the photo above, Hideki Matsui is doing the same thing that good pitchers do. First, notice that he strode sideways to the target and is just now rotating his GS toe to point to the target. Second, notice that his hips are rotating ahead of his shoulders. Third, notice that his timing is good and that he is not rushing; his GS foot is just about to plant and his PAS forearm is almost vertical. This will ensure that his PAS forearm will be vertical at the moment that his shoulders start to turn.



Nolan Ryan: As Good As it Gets

If you've followed my work, you know that I'm a fan of Nolan Ryan. I don't think his longevity was an accident.

The photo above illustrates why I have such a high opinion of his mechanics.
     The first thing to notice in this photo is his timing. Notice how his PAS forearm is nearly vertical while his GS foot has not yet planted. This means that, when his GS foot plants and his shoulders start to turn, his forearm will be vertical. This will decrease the force with which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate and will reduce the load on his shoulder.
     The second thing to notice is how both his elbows are below the levels of his shoulders (in contrast to Shawn Marcum, Dontrelle Willis, Mark Prior, Billy Wagner, Anthony Reyes, and many others). I believe that this also helped to protect his rotator cuff.
     The third thing to notice is where his palm is facing. In the above photo, he is showing the ball to 3B or SS, and NOT to 2B or CF as some people say is necessary. I believe that doing this helped to protect his UCL.



Shawn Marcum: An Accident Waiting To Happen

In an effort to prove to people that I know what I'm talking about, when possible I try to make predictions about what I think about a pitcher's injury history will be. This week's subject is Shawn Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays.

I'm not thrilled with what I see in the photo above. As you can see, Shawn Marcum takes his elbows both above and behind his shoulders (ala Mark Prior and Anthony Reyes). For this reason, I believe that he is at an increased risk of having problems with his rotator cuff (specifically the Subscapularis muscle).
     I also don't like the position of Marcum's forearm at this moment. His glove-side foot is just about to plant, which will start his shoulder rotating, but his forearm is below the horizontal. I believe that this will increase the amount and rate with which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate, which will place a tremendous amount of stress on his shoulder.



Dontrelle Willis: Shoulder Problems Ahead?

As long as I'm talking about guys that I think are at a higher than average risk of having shoulder problems, let me mention Dontrelle Willis.

I have seen a lot of photos of Dontrelle Willis and in many of them he is also taking his elbows both above and behind his shoulders. I believe that this may create problems for him over the next few years.
     As long as I'm talking about Dontrelle Willis, I should also mention that I wonder if he could end up pulling a Tiger Woods; being great for a few years and then struggling. The problem is that his motion and mechanics are so violent (not to mention strange) that I think they could be more vulnerable to breaking down. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point Dontrelle Willis, like Tiger Woods, had to rebuild his mechanics so that they are easier for his aging body to consistently repeat.



Danny Haren: The One That Got Away

I wasn't that into pitching when Danny Haren was pitching for my Cardinals, so I wasn't that upset when they traded him to the A's. However, pretty much every time I see a picture of Haren now, I think about what might have been.

The above photo is a great example of what I think are Danny Haren's very solid pitching mechanics. Some things to notice are...

  • How far his hips are rotating ahead of his shoulders.
  • How his glove-side knee is flexed (not locked).
  • How his eyes are locked on the target.
  • How the palm of his PAS hand is facing 3B (and not CF or 2B).

I think that any young pitcher would be well-served by emulating Danny Haren's mechanics.


The Pitching Mechanic - July 2006

about | contact | copyright | sitemap | liability policy