Five Tips To A Better Fastball

1) Don’t be predictable

Ask any hitter when they get 0-2 in the count if they think they are going to see a curveball in the next two pitches…They will say yes. Good time to buzz a fastball on the outer black of the plate.

2) Throw It Early In The Count

Most pitchers wait until they are ahead in the count to throw the curve.
A first pitch curve over the plate has an .069 batting average in the MLB.

3) Perfect Or In The Dirt With Two Strikes

Pitchers need to be ingrained in their belief of the following…Be perfect or in the dirt. Aperfect pitch will get you results…a dirt mistake will get you maybe one out of ten swing and misses  and no homeruns…the mistake over the plate will be very different.

4) Know Your Personality

Don’t throw a loopy curve if you are a power pitcher. Don’t throw a hard curve if you are a finesse pitcher

5) NEVER Shut It Down

Too many times pitchers shut down a certain pitch if it is not working. BIG mistake. Never shut it down completely. Take your between innings warm up to throw it. You may get that feel and bite back for it. Also, the opposing team and coaching staff is bound to pick up on it sooner than later. Throwing a bad one (in the dirt) is better then shutting it down.

If You See Something, Say Something!

It is so easy to ignore potential problems when things are going well. That goes for any aspect of your life, including baseball. Why mess with that hitter’s swing if he’s smashing the ball deep into the outfield more than any other player in the league? Why suggest that a pitcher changes his motion if he’s dominating opposing batters?

The reason you would intercede is that if you have the knowledge, and admittedly that is an if, you should try to help someone from either hurting themselves or by developing a habit which will become so difficult to overcome in the future that they can’t possibly change. Like Johnny who often hits the ball into the trees, but he has a huge stride which blends in with his swing. At twelve years old, facing pretty much only fastballs and slow fastballs, he seems “fine,” and even great when compared to other kids But this bad habit won’t be exposed until high school. Then he will likely miss any pitch that has significant movement – as all other pitches do. He’ll be ill prepared to square up curveballs, changeups, sliders, two-seam fastballs, cutters – pretty much every other pitch on the planet.

What about Tommy, the 12-year-old pitcher that dominates the competition. He throws the ball past most kids, and even hurts his catcher’s hand. He’s big and mature for his age. But he moves towards the plate in one piece like a telephone pole falling, and stops his throwing arm abruptly after release, like it’s hit a brick wall. When he’s older, his ability to create velocity with his motion will top out unless he learns to separately rotate his torso from his lower half. And abruptly stopping his arm rather than giving it as much time as possible to decelerate put much more stress on the small ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow. So he’ll either feel significant elbow pain, reduce his velocity and innings pitched, or wind up needing elbow rehab or surgery. Or just give up baseball entirely.

Sometimes when a player is doing well, even if we see something that they’re doing that can hinder their growth or hurt them later, we usually don’t mention anything because, hey, they’re succeeding. How many times do you hear “If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it”? Most coaches try not to look for problems if things are going well. Who can blame them, especially if they’re not be certain of what’s wrong. But if you are sure its a problem, ignoring it leads someone into a far bigger problem down the road.

Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easy for me to say now about something of concern that I noticed in Stephen Strassberg’s or Matt Harvey’s delivery. So let me first say that I admire the Cardinals and their long history of success. One of my best friends, Brent Strom, has worked for them over the last six years as their Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Despite the fact that he has become the number-two starter as a rookie and is the kid that everyone is raving about, I am concerned that Michael Wacha will hurt his arm sooner rather than later.

I see Wacha locking out his elbow early in his delivery and keeping it that way for some time. He also uses the hypermobility in his throwing shoulder to create more whip from his whole arm, rather than bending and using his elbow during the beginning and end of his arm movement. This creates a pretty long lever that he uses for a number of advantages, including making his fastball and changeup look very similar. Nonetheless, he puts more stress on both the front and back of his shoulder, and may create bone chips in his elbow. His body obviously tolerates these stresses better than most of us, but if I were his pitching coach, I’d say something. So Michael Wacha, don’t let anyone say they didn’t tell you to watch out.

 

Day 23: Cardinals @ Mets; Marlins @ Cardinals (ss)

Good to see Oscar Taveras get some playing time. However, I am so glad that they did not rush the kid. Let him get his mind straight, and his confidence up.

By Gosh, It's Langosch

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

wpid-0307140801.jpgTop prospect Oscar Taveras is finally set to make his Grapefruit League debut and will do so in the split-squad game the Cardinals are playing on the road this afternoon. The Cardinals delayed Taveras’ start into spring games until they saw the outfielder run and slide without hesitating as he pushed off his surgically-repaired right ankle.

With Taveras already having missed a week of spring games, his chances of making the Opening Day roster likely took a hit. He seemed a longshot to head north with St. Louis anyway, but the Cardinals always said that a sensational spring showing by Taveras could change their mind. Now, there are only three weeks worth of games left for Taveras to make his impression.

Carlos Martinez will start that game in Port St. Lucie.wpid-0307140801a.jpg

Back in Jupiter, the Cardinals will play a second game, this one against the Marlins. Adam Wainwright

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RIP Frank Jobe

Today baseball lost a great Doctor. Tommy John lost a GREAT friend. Frank Jobe passed away today.
I remember him my 1st spring in Vero Beach. Dressed in tennis whites playing tennis with all the wives. BTW, he was a much, much better surgeon.
When he told me what was going to happen to my left elbow, I trusted him as a friend first, doctor second. I knew he had my best interests at heart. If he had told me to bury my glove at 2nd base I would have done it. Because of our bond and trust I won 164 games after the groundbreaking surgery. The most amazing stat was that I never missed a start in the 13 years post surgery.
I got to spend 90 minutes with him at the Humana Golf Tournament in January. We laughed and told stories to numerous tour golfers.
Frank Jobe was a great surgeon but an even better human being. I told him that if I ever made it to Cooperstown I wanted him with me. He will be with me in spirit now.
RIP My friend!!

– Tommy John, via FacebookImage

It’s About The Journey, Not The Destination

Often players get wrapped up in worrying about things over which they have no control. The want to hit .400, make the All Star team, get a college scholarship and play pro baseball. The accomplishments are a byproduct of the process, not a given reward. Baseball is about the journey, not the destination. I think a young man should play baseball to learn lessons in life, individual striving for excellence, discipline, a work ethic, dealing with failure and resilience.

The reason anyone should work so hard today (in baseball or anything, for that matter) is to strive to have the maximum amount of success and fun possible tomorrow when he gets on the field to play the game again. His preparation should focus on being successful in that next game. Any possible big payoff down the road, like a college scholarship or playing pro ball is beyond his control. Even his high school team may be very strong, or the coach may not think he is good enough. College and pro scouts also may not believe he has what it takes to succeed on their level. He can’t control their opinions. But today, he is on a team. Tomorrow he has another game. He may get to play and he works to be ready to have success tomorrow if granted the opportunity.

A ballplayer’s preparation must not consist of just opportunities that are offered by his local league, his team, or his school. Those opportunities are not enough, both in time and level of development to help him get the most out of his raw abilities. Imagine for a minute if the violinist who gets a solo in the school concert just practiced in her orchestra class. Is that enough time to bring out the talent she has? Of course not. Likely, she too will not become professional in her musical pursuits. But in both cases, parents and coaches should stress that home training and practice is where you bring out more of the talents you have inside, whether its for math, music, or baseball.

In his home training program, your ballplayer will need to hit off a tee in the garage or basement. If he pitches, he will need to throw a bullpen in the backyard and Dad, you can help by catching his pen.” You can throw him “Pickleballs” to him in the backyard. He will be able to develop a short and consistent stride on the ball of his foot, keeping his weight back, not blend his stride and swing and to execute rotational swing mechanics when hitting the ball without any one to help.

Frequent and focused work in a home training program is empowering. When he steps into the box in a game, he is empowered with the knowledge that by golly, he has EARNED the right to have success. He has the mental edge. He worked to EARN the success and fun he will be enjoying today.

Baseball is about the journey, not the destination. He may or may not play out all his dreams but when it is all over, he will be a man who has learned to work to be the best that he can be. Those memories of the journey shared with Dad will last a lifetime.