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March 18, 2008 at 5:42 pm
O’Leary’s whole judgment process basically has two steps:
1. Does the pitcher have his elbows above his shoulders at any point in the process?
2. Does he generally look like Greg Maddux?
I’ve learned a lot about mechanics from O’Leary and generally respect the guy, but these two steps certainly aren’t the whole story on pitching mechanics, I don’t think.
I think he makes an important point about the elbow on the pitching arm side. It shouldn’t rise above the shoulder. Just try holding your elbow above your shoulder for a while and you’ll see this is right.
But Bonderman doesn’t do it that badly. His problems are much more likely due to the fact that he throws 37% sliders for 180+ innings a year. Watch him or any other pitcher throw a fastball or changeup, and you’ll see that just after the release point, the thumb is pointed down. This, combined with arm slot, is most of the reason why fastballs tail in on same-handed hitters. But when you throw a slider, you can’t have your thumb pointing down as much as you can with a fastball. It puts stress on the elbow – try it both ways. There is a reason why sliders get a reputation as a pitch that is harder on the arm than a fastball, change, or even curve.
If Bonderman doesn’t change anything about his mechanics, but throws maybe 27% sliders and 18% changeups next year instead of 37% and 8%, I would bet some money that he holds up better.
If he hates Bonderman’s mechanics so much, I’d love to see what he has to say about a guy like Peavy.
PS – The SI list is not very good. Joba Chamberlain is a better young pitcher than Jered Weaver? Joba has pitched 22 innings. Jered has pitched 10 times that, and had very good success as a starter.
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