I watched Diamondbacks Trevor Bauer struggle yesterday while pitching his 4th start against the Reds in Cincinnati on a very hot day.
However, his results were very poor. Absolutely no command of any of his pitches. He went 3 innings, only gave up 1 hit (3 run homer), 5 BBs and 4 Ks. A total of 73 pitches. That’s an average of 24 pitches per inning. I think the second inning he threw over 35 pitches.
So far he has walked 13 in 16 1/3 innings. That to me is a big red flag that something is wrong.
I have never seen so many curve balls in the dirt and fastballs that were all well above the letters, with 1 that went over the catcher’s head. It was pretty clear that both the catcher, Montero, and the poor umpire were getting beat up. Plus, I would imagine the fielders were getting a bit impatient as they stood out there in the extreme heat.
Of course, in the course of 73 pitches you are going to see some pretty good stuff. His fastball topped out at 94 and was mostly 91-92.
Bauer has potential to pull of some amazing speed pitches if he can command them. He has a quick-breaking 12/6 curve ball and a change that has good potential. His fastball is average at this point, not the hyped up 97-100 that was reported.
As I watched, he looked very nervous. I have never seen an MLB pitcher take so many deep breaths, I mean really deep. That, to me, is a sign of not being in control.
Mark Grace, who does commentary for the Diamondbacks and is also a former Cubs great hitting first-baseman, commented during the game on whether his extreme pre-game workout of long toss and all the other things could have contributed to his lack of command and the possibility that he was fatigued. Mark is asking good questions.
My question is – when do the Diamondbacks wake up and simply tell him that his pre-game workout, which should only be a warm-up, is not working?
When you walk 13 in 16 innings something isn’t right. With most of his fastballs well above belt high it is apparent that his release point is more like a long distance throwing release point than one you would perfect by throwing only downhill to specific targets.
But before I tell Trevor we are going to be changing his routine, I am going to let him explain to me why he believes his routine is valuable and, if it is valuable, why no other pitchers have done such a workout prior to pitching. Then I will listen before I explain the errors of his thinking.
Trevor Baurer will now do it my way since I am paying him to do one thing and one thing only – get hitters out so that they score less runs than our team. That is all I care about.
I am going to tell him what he is going to do from now on and why it makes sense. Trevor, you had your chance. Before we decide we have to send you back to AAA, let’s try something different that might make more sense to you and make you a better pitcher rather than a better thrower.
Trevor, honestly, your long distance throwing is impressive to say the least. However, we are paying you to get hitters out from a distance of 60′ 6″ using your entire pitching arsenal, which you cannot use while long distance throwing.
Also understand that getting to a consistent release point using a variety of pitches thrown at different speeds is one of the finest skills to perfect in all of sports. That release point occurs by flexing your trunk forward so that your head and shoulder are out over your landing knee at ball release.
This, of course, is totally different from the release point that you practice when doing your long throwing. Now we know that you were an engineering major at UCLA, so we know you are smart.
Does it really make sense to you that in order to perfect a consistent release point from the mound, you would practice a completely different release point in the bullpen? I would love to hear Bauer’s response to that question!
If Bauer is truly a smart guy, he will begin to question how long distance throwing can help improve or sustain good control while pitching from a mound. Or are his beliefs so blindly imbedded in his subconscious that he has never done any independent thinking on this matter?
Trevor, does it make sense to you that you would practice something prior to a game that is completely different than what you will be required to do in the game? Need to hear his response to this.
Trevor, do you know of any professional athletes who practice something completely different before their competition than what they will do in competition? Again, need to hear this response.
Do professional tennis players go out into the parking lot prior to a match to his ground strokes and serves as hard at they can?
Do professional quarterbacks spend time prior to the game throwing from one end zone to the next?
Do the worlds best ping pong players go to tennis courts prior to matches in order to perfect their hard strokes?
Trevor, does it make sense to you that high level athletes should practice activities before games that they cannot use to help them improve their game performance?
These questions should all be asked and answered by all long toss advocates as well.
Do you know that not one long toss advocate can answer those questions sensibly based on sports science research? Not one.
Alan Jaeger, who has sold his long toss program to some MLB clubs such as the Rangers, cannot answer those questions with any sense of evidence to back it up. The only thing he’ll say is that everybody long tosses. And that is the only ‘evidence ‘ they have that “proves” it works. It works because it works?
It’s not working right now for Trevor Bauer. But does he know why? I don’t think so.
Maybe GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson need to listen to commentator Mark Grace, former Braves future Hall of Famer John Smoltz and veteran Tommy John, all of whom say that pitchers should practice from the mound.
I wonder what Alan Jaeger would do right now? See if Bauer is long tossing correctly?
How about watching and recording his bullpens? Where are all his pitches going? How about videotaping his games from the 3rd base angle and record the release points of all his pitches?
How about comparing his long toss mechanics to his mound pitching mechanics? You would see little that is similar especially his release point.
It could be two things:
Fatigue is the death of good performance in athletes.
It all starts by practicing good mechanics and spending most of your time pitching from the distance you will be required to get hitters out from. This is what we recommend if you want to improve your velocity, your command and reduce the risk of injury.