Theory on pitching mechanics of the St. Louis Cardinals


#1

First, let me say that this is a reflection of Cardinal pitchers only because that’s my favorite team and the team that I see the most.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Could it be that the “break your hands as soon as the leg starts down” theory is wrong?

In my own personal pitching experience, I have the bad habit of getting my hands going too early. My PAS forearm gets to a certain point, and since it’s too fast, just kinda chills there for a split second while my body catches up. This robs me of velocity since it is not a continuous motion.

Now, having watched the Cardinal pitchers lately, I’ve noticed something. Jeff Suppan does not seem to break his hands at the top of his leg kick. In fact, it looks like his kick leg is close to halfway down before he breaks his hands. Could this be to speed up the motion of his hands, so he throws “through” the high-cocked position, not “from” it?

Also, when both Chris Carpenter and Jeff Weaver throw from the windup, when they reach the top of the leg kick, they “pat” the glove with the ball, then break the hands. The result is that they break the hands with the kick leg on the way down, instead of at the top of the leg kick. Do you think this could be a timing mechanism to DELAY hand break and ensure the arm action is a smooth, fast, continuous motion?

Let me know your thoughts.


#2

[quote=“jhuskey”]First, let me say that this is a reflection of Cardinal pitchers only because that’s my favorite team and the team that I see the most.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Could it be that the “break your hands as soon as the leg starts down” theory is wrong?[/quote]
Well, of course that theory is wrong because it would have to be an absolute if it wasn’t. It’s not an absolute. The timing of the hand break needs to fit the overall timing of the entire delivery and that varies from one pitcher to another.

This is not an absolute either. Relief pitcher Jose Valverde of the AZ Diamondbacks is one who I would say pauses at the high-cocked position and throws from there. His fastball is normally in the mid to upper 90’s.

I think you could be right. That’s what works for him.

[quote=“jhuskey”]Also, when both Chris Carpenter and Jeff Weaver throw from the windup, when they reach the top of the leg kick, they “pat” the glove with the ball, then break the hands. The result is that they break the hands with the kick leg on the way down, instead of at the top of the leg kick. Do you think this could be a timing mechanism to DELAY hand break and ensure the arm action is a smooth, fast, continuous motion?

Let me know your thoughts.[/quote]
Certainly could be a timing mechanism. Again, they’ve found something that works for them.


#3

I wouldn’t be so sure that this is bad.

Freddy Garcia does it, and he’s doing just fine. Outfielders also do it when they throw from a crow hop.


#4

It all depends on your overall timing and tempo (especially the timing of your lower body).

This works for them; by breaking there hands there and then their PAS arm is in the proper position as their GS foot lands and their shoulders start to turn.


#5

I’m having lots of trouble in getting the ball down in the zone. I’m missing it high (about the neck level) most of the time. So I thought this could be a rushing problem.
I tried to speed up my arm and get to the high cocked position well before my front foot landed. And I was experiencing the same problem you described.
I had a significant loss in velocity and I abandoned it. My fastballs were all in the dirt by doing this.

I still can’t figure why my pitches are going way high…

I also noticed that I could be throwing across my body, because I was really falling to the left side. My coach said I was, and he told me that my front foot should land on a straight line from the heel of my back foot, and not from the ball of my back foot.
Is this correct?


#6

[quote=“KreGg”]I’m having lots of trouble in getting the ball down in the zone. I’m missing it high (about the neck level) most of the time. So I thought this could be a rushing problem.
I tried to speed up my arm and get to the high cocked position well before my front foot landed. And I was experiencing the same problem you described.
I had a significant loss in velocity and I abandoned it. My fastballs were all in the dirt by doing this.

I still can’t figure why my pitches are going way high…[/quote]
Rushing (as Chris defines it) is not the only reason for pitches going high. You may be opening up the shoulders too early or you may be dropping your glove. Both of these can cause the arm to drag which often results in high pitches. You might also be collapsing the back side and aligning the shoulders uphill. So, you really need to figure out what it is you’re doing before you can fix it.

[quote=“KreGg”]I also noticed that I could be throwing across my body, because I was really falling to the left side. My coach said I was, and he told me that my front foot should land on a straight line from the heel of my back foot, and not from the ball of my back foot.
Is this correct?[/quote]
Throwing across your body is only a problem if it causes a late posture change at the point you try to “turn the corner”. And such a posture change can lead to falling off to the glove side. Trying to turn the corner, opening up the shoulders too early and dropping the glove can all lead to inappropriate posture changes.

If your problem is truly a posture change due to trying to “turn the corner”, then before you change your stride, you might first try just changing your starting position on the rubber. Specifically, look at your drag line (it probably sweeps out to the throwing arm side) and adjust your position so that the end of the drag line falls in the imaginary line between the center of the rubber and the center of home plate. This adjustment basically makes you stride onto the center line instead of away from it and that reduces the angle you throw across your body.


#7

I had a pitching instructor from a camp once change the timing of my hands breaking. He said I flew open to soon so he told me to keep the ball in my glove as long as i could and the arm would catch up by itself. At first it seemed like it worked well. My pitches were at the knees consistently. Eventually however I had trouble keeping a rythem and found alot of trouble being consitent in the strike zone. I wouldnt suggest going full throttle on changing ur timing unless your going to be seriously dedicated to it and its in the off season


#8

[quote=“Roger”]
Rushing (as Chris defines it) is not the only reason for pitches going high. You may be opening up the shoulders too early or you may be dropping your glove. Both of these can cause the arm to drag which often results in high pitches. You might also be collapsing the back side and aligning the shoulders uphill. So, you really need to figure out what it is you’re doing before you can fix it.[/quote]

One thing I think I’m possibly doing is dropping the elbows under the shoulder height. But it’s both elbows, not just the throwing arm elbow (as that would mean I was aligning the shoulders uphill right?)

[quote=“Roger”]
Specifically, look at your drag line (it probably sweeps out to the throwing arm side) and adjust your position so that the end of the drag line falls in the imaginary line between the center of the rubber and the center of home plate. This adjustment basically makes you stride onto the center line instead of away from it and that reduces the angle you throw across your body.[/quote]

How would this help me to not throw against the body anymore? I should get a better angle to hit the home plate (actually the strike zone), but I would still be throwing against my body, right?

But one thing everyone says, but doesn’t say it correctly, or with depth.
They say you have to step with your stride foot on a direct line with your back foot. But is this direct line from the heelp of your backfoot? Or from the ball of your backfoot?
I didn’t have the chance to practice with my front foot landing on a direct line from the HEEL of my back foot, but it seems like it gives me much more hip rotation and a much better position at the end of the delivery.


#9

[quote=“KreGg”][quote=“Roger”]
Rushing (as Chris defines it) is not the only reason for pitches going high. You may be opening up the shoulders too early or you may be dropping your glove. Both of these can cause the arm to drag which often results in high pitches. You might also be collapsing the back side and aligning the shoulders uphill. So, you really need to figure out what it is you’re doing before you can fix it.[/quote]

One thing I think I’m possibly doing is dropping the elbows under the shoulder height. But it’s both elbows, not just the throwing arm elbow (as that would mean I was aligning the shoulders uphill right?)[/quote]
Only if the shoulders always do what the elbows do. I suppose that may often be the case but I don’t think it has to be the case.

[quote=“KreGg”][quote=“Roger”]
Specifically, look at your drag line (it probably sweeps out to the throwing arm side) and adjust your position so that the end of the drag line falls in the imaginary line between the center of the rubber and the center of home plate. This adjustment basically makes you stride onto the center line instead of away from it and that reduces the angle you throw across your body.[/quote]

How would this help me to not throw against the body anymore? I should get a better angle to hit the home plate (actually the strike zone), but I would still be throwing against my body, right?[/quote]
Yes, you would still be throwing across your body - just not as much. We’re just trying not to have a posture change (specifically, a lean to the glove side) as that’s usually what messes up a pitcher who throws across his body. Tom Glavine is a lefty that starts on the right side of the rubber, strides to the throwing arm side and throws across his body. It’s obviously not a problem for him.

[quote=“KreGg”]But one thing everyone says, but doesn’t say it correctly, or with depth.
They say you have to step with your stride foot on a direct line with your back foot. But is this direct line from the heelp of your backfoot? Or from the ball of your backfoot?
I didn’t have the chance to practice with my front foot landing on a direct line from the HEEL of my back foot, but it seems like it gives me much more hip rotation and a much better position at the end of the delivery.[/quote]
I’ve always drawn the line from the arch of the back foot. Drawing the line from the heel just means you’ll have to open up the hips more into foot plant. But it’s not a lot more so I wouldn’t get too hung up on where the line is drawn.

If you think that striding online with the target gets you better hip rotation, then that would be a good reason to make this adjustment. But understand that what you currently do is probably a habit and it will take many reps to break that habit.


#10

Thanks Roger.
I was going to post something about Rogers (not you, Kenny Rogers hehe). He does the exactly same thing you said Glavine does. I was watching him pitching yesterday in Gm 2 of the World Series and I noticed he clearly throw across his body. He stands on the right side of the rubber as well.

Hmm so basically the problem is not throwing against the body, or stepping closed instead of on line with the target, but the real problem is leaning to either side, is that right?


#11

Technically, I suppose there could also be health issues in that throwing across your body could result in some sort of impingement injury to the front side of the shoulder. But based on my experience working with young pitchers, the posture issue is usually the problem. They stride offline and then try to get their upper body back online by leaning to the glove side and that leads to dropping the glove, opening up too soon, balance issues, etc. The release point becomes inconsistent as well as less effective for movement.


#12

[quote=“jhuskey”]First, let me say that this is a reflection of Cardinal pitchers only because that’s my favorite team and the team that I see the most.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Could it be that the “break your hands as soon as the leg starts down” theory is wrong?

In my own personal pitching experience, I have the bad habit of getting my hands going too early. My PAS forearm gets to a certain point, and since it’s too fast, just kinda chills there for a split second while my body catches up. This robs me of velocity since it is not a continuous motion.

Now, having watched the Cardinal pitchers lately, I’ve noticed something. Jeff Suppan does not seem to break his hands at the top of his leg kick. In fact, it looks like his kick leg is close to halfway down before he breaks his hands. Could this be to speed up the motion of his hands, so he throws “through” the high-cocked position, not “from” it?

Also, when both Chris Carpenter and Jeff Weaver throw from the windup, when they reach the top of the leg kick, they “pat” the glove with the ball, then break the hands. The result is that they break the hands with the kick leg on the way down, instead of at the top of the leg kick. Do you think this could be a timing mechanism to DELAY hand break and ensure the arm action is a smooth, fast, continuous motion?

Let me know your thoughts.[/quote]i think it depends on the pitcher, some have quicker leg kick and some have slower ones, just depends on timing


#13

» Oct 20, 2006

KreGg wrote:
I’m having lots of trouble in getting the ball down in the zone. I’m missing it high (about the neck level) most of the time. So I thought this could be a rushing problem.
I tried to speed up my arm and get to the high cocked position well before my front foot landed. And I was experiencing the same problem you described.
I had a significant loss in velocity and I abandoned it. My fastballs were all in the dirt by doing this.

I still can’t figure why my pitches are going way high…

Rushing (as Chris defines it) is not the only reason for pitches going high. You may be opening up the shoulders too early or you may be dropping your glove. Both of these can cause the arm to drag which often results in high pitches. You might also be collapsing the back side and aligning the shoulders uphill. So, you really need to figure out what it is you’re doing before you can fix it. "

Not really. if you see a lot of great pitchers, their glove arm is dropping below their shoulder. Also, if you look at good pichers(chris carpenter) their shoulders are always dropped back. YOu never want to go striaght down the hill.

http://images.sportsnetwork.com/baseball/mlb/allsport/stlouis/carpenter_chris14.jpg


#14

During a game a ‘quick fix’ for keeping the ball lower could be to 'pinch the ball a little tighter. During BP try to hit the plate or a ground touching catcher target.