Do pitchers lose velocity from the stretch?

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In recapping Sunday’s win over Texas, I noted that Joba Chamberlain had begun pitching exclusively from the stretch, which I didn’t get. “He’s been a starter and pitching from the windup his entire life,” I boasted, “why change it up now? I see no reason for him to not work from the windup with no one on. No point in sacrificing stuff.” Well, someone much smarter than I (Mike Fast of THT) took a look at the data and showed that if anything, pitchers throw harder from the stretch. Shows what I know.

As far as I’m concerned, Joba can pitch however he wants. If he’s more comfortable and more effective from the stretch, then by all means do it. It just caught me a little off guard. I guess I’m still holding out a tiny bit of hope that he’ll one day return to the rotation, and this was a point to the contrary.

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  • A.D.

    Then why do starters pitch from the wind-up?

  • Hughesus Christo

    So the windup is one of those things in baseball that people do for no real reason?

    I want to be a HS baseball coach one day just so I can put lefties at 3B and SS.

  • http://highteawithchurls.blogspot.com Matt on Earth

    A.D.- Pitchers are known for being ‘creatures of habit.’ Why change a motion and one’s mechanics if not needed? Pitching from the stretch doesn’t necessarily gain them velocity. All that is being said above, if I’m understanding correctly, is apparently it doesn’t cost them velocity. So, I’d say unless the pitcher has a baserunner to be mindful of, the moral of the story is pitch however you’re comfortable.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Sure, when dealing with guys who have learned to pitch both from the stretch and not… But how about if/when you’re teaching a kid how to pitch? Does that change your thinking on the matter?

      • kunaldo

        Aren’t we forgetting about deception? It’s a key element in pitching, and you lose a lot of it when you pitch from the stretch(obviously, it depends on the pitcher, but you have less of a chance of hiding the ball and whatnot)

  • http://twitter.com/Cnight_UP Cnight_UP

    Any baserunner, Jose Molina included will steal a base rather easily if the pitcher goes from the windup.

  • Chip

    The convenient thing about the stretch is that there are less moving parts. Plus, you only have to work on one pitching motion rather than changing over. I believe during his no-hitter Jimenez started going only from the stretch due to his wildness from the windup

    • Marcus

      I could have sworn Hughes was going from the stretch exclusively last night as well. Did anyone notice that?

      I was at the game though, and I was getting distracted left and right by screeching A’s fans talking about how “gay” A-Rod was, so I could be wrong.

      • bexarama

        We’re losing and the Yankees’ #5 starter just no-hit us for seven innings! YANKEES SUCK! YANKEES SUCK!!!

        /As fans’d

      • mko

        Yes you are wrong…Hughes pitched from the windup.

  • http://highteawithchurls.blogspot.com Matt on Earth

    Right. I suppose in theory if you started training early enough from the stretch that might be preferable. However, I consider pitching in the same manner as a tennis player serving. It’s a complicated process and the simpler the technique, the less flaws have to be corrected when things aren’t running smoothly.

    Also as to stealing easier on pitchers from the windup, that’s certainly true. However, by changing your timing inbetween pitches, you can mitigate it somewhat.

    • rbizzler

      One possibility is that pitchers may be able to create a bit more deception from the wind-up. In simplifying the delivery from the stretch, maybe some sort of timing/deception advantage is lost.

      ps not trying to be a jerk but if you use the ‘reply’ button, it makes the conversation easier to follow.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “However, I consider pitching in the same manner as a tennis player serving. It’s a complicated process and the simpler the technique, the less flaws have to be corrected when things aren’t running smoothly.”

      If you feel that way, I’d think you’d support teaching kids to only pitch from the stretch, as that simplifies the process and leads to fewer moving parts and fewer chances for flaws to be corrected.

      (And just by the way, there are “reply” buttons in each comment so you can reply directly to a specific comment.)

      • http://highteawithchurls.blogspot.com Matt on Earth

        You’re correct. I just re-read my response…got a little distracted while typing my thought. I would say if pitching from the stretch is the simpler process, that would be benefitial.

        My bad on the reply button…typing from my iPhone here…buttons are small.

  • mko

    Cool, this confirms what I’ve been thinking all along – the strain on the body and speed of the pitch are no different using the windup or the stretch. I guess this relates to pitch movement as well.

    So if I was a pitcher, I would pitch from the stretch only. One motion must be easier to perfect than two.

    I guess one reason for incorporating the windup is a possible deception factor? But I can’t really confirm or deny that since I’m not a baseball player. Or maybe the motion just feel smoother, even though the final part of the motion is the same?

    • rbizzler

      When I pitch in my old man summer league, I only throw from the stretch. Some of my teammates give me crap but my main concern is throwing strikes (and not hitting anyone). For me, as a part-time player, the less moving parts in my delivery the better.

      With a pro, I would assume that they have plenty of time/instruction and should be able to switch back and forth with relative ease. In the end, as long as a pitcher can repeat their motion then they should use whatever motion they feel most comfortable with.

  • Apollo22237

    Obviously there is a difference between the MLB and younger kids, but it is very important to be comfortable. I coach a 12 yr old travel team, and although they learn to pitch from the windup or the stretch, sometimes it comes down to comfort.
    If there is no one on base and the pitcher is a little wild, it is definitely easier to go from the stretch because of less moving parts. On the other hand, sometimes even when there is a runner on 3rd base, I have them go from the windup if they were pitching better that way. Once he gets to third the runner isn’t going anywhere anyway.

  • larryf

    Toeing the rubber-or the pocket in front-is easier from the stretch as you have to “find it” from the windup. On the other hand, driving forward and using your lower body is very important for mechanics/velocity and decreasing arm strain and the windup allows for greater forward drive in my opinion.

  • http://thinkingoutsideofthebattersbox.blogspot.com/ W.W.J.M.D.

    Glad to hear you still have hope for Joba in the rotation Mike. I was feeling kinda alone there for a sec.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      There’s a few (bunch) of us left.

      • Renny Baseball

        +62

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Hopefully he gets another shot at it. Of course if he succeeds in he pen which he most likely will can they once again live with the heat of making him a starter

  • Dexception32

    Not sure how many of you actually were pitchers in school or whatever. I remember it being very difficult to pitch from the stretch, simply as a result of flow, there was an ease I felt like with the rock and weight transfer. I’m also fairly certain I threw harder that way as well. I tended to be too low most of the time from the stretch, and starting from a standstill always felt fairly awkward from the stretch. Maybe it was just me and a rhythm thing though.

  • ShuutoHeat

    I don’t know the exact science but I’ve pitched exclusively from the stretch, then again I’m not pro. In the end it depends on the pitcher
    and how comfortable they feel.

    It always felt like there were too many moving parts during the whole wind up, so it threw my timing off… stretch was more straight forward, just drop+drive.

    I’ve also experimented with multiple varying arm slots, it was much harder to repeat the same wind up motion with different arm slots (ie: going from high 3/4 switching to low sidearm/submarine). Where as with the stretch it was just easier to make both motions look the same but with different slot/release. But that is a whole different topic….

  • Pete C.

    Maybe someones already said this, or everyone thinks it’s a given, but wouldn’t the fact that by pitching from the stretch is just plain quicker to the plate than a wind up? And regardless of what the velocity of the ball, while possibly as fast or nearly so, is secondary to the time saved by the more economical motion.
    After all, doesn’t the pitcher and his methods bear just as much responsibilty for keeping the baserunner in check as the catcher and his arm.