Monday Night Pitching Question

I was sitting right down the third base line at O’Brate and it looked like the first three Arkansas pitchers worked the absolute bottom of the strike zone or mostly missed low. I was wondering if this was just my angle or did anyone else notice it? The OSU coach, in his post-game press conference, mentioned that the Hog pitchers gave them a different look. Hagen Smith pitched more up in the zone and just looked dominant, even to the sea of OSU fans around me.

I think that’s accurate. We were trying to keep the ball in the ballpark, and staying low helps with that. Smith and Vermillion have the velocity to pitch up in the zone. But if someone gets hold of one up high, it tends to go a long way…

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Morris and Ramage are going to throw breakers low in zone. They can’t be up. They did their job for the most part. Vermillion and Smith are 93-95. And do not throw cutters and change ups like Morris and Ramage.

To add to good comments already in the thread, if pitchers throw a four seam (the two narrow seams form a giant # - number sign - when the fingers are added) it tends to not move side-to-side or up-and-down. A two seam (place the fingers on top of the seams, so that there is nothing but white leather between the fingers) is called a sinker because it does just that. And, as all the computerized-stuff has confirmed, if you spin a 2-seamer with elite spin you can get a lot of side-to-side movement.

Before being suspended, Trevor Bauer spent an off-season with the computer stuff. He would throw a pitch, then rewind and watch the computer analytics. He learned to throw a pitch (gyro ball, maybe? I have forgotten the name he gave it) where it catches a seam on one side but not the other. That means if you are standing at third base watching the ball you see a tight red dot where the seams spin around while the pitch travels, but if you were standing at first base you’d see a white circle because the seams were rotating around the outside. Somehow, he figured out how to do that with a fastball grip and arm motion.It gives him elite speed but it tends to move sideways like an elite-level slider, all while giving the impression of rising (certainly not sinking). Optical illusion on that last part.

Roger Clemens 4-seam was mid- to high-90s and the spin was so extreme it had the illusion of moving up. It didn’t but most pitchers do not spin the ball fast enough, or throw it with enough velocity, to have the optical impact of “not dropping.” Most drop some, but Rogers maintained, giving it that illusion of moving up. Bauer found that as a part of his computer simulation work.

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