The high fastball is the rage in MLB...

I’ve noticed that pitchers are throwing the high fastball at the letters for strikes and swing and misses. This metric stuff has shown that is a great way to strike guys out. In the old days anything above the belt was called a ball, for the most part. Now, guys are swinging and missing because it is tough to get on top of a high fastball.

Hitting is pretty pathetic in the major leagues right now. A guy hitting .250 is doing pretty well…he used to be heading to the minors if he hit .250.

An easy way to get hitting back into the game is to shrink the zone like the old days…anything above the belt is a ball. The ball is wound as tight as a Titleist, so if you do connect it is gone.

Maybe they can move the mound back slightly or just lower it…something has to be done to get hitting back into the game.

Loeske is my favorite example of this. When he started locating pitches up in the zone instead of at the knees, we ended up with the dominant reliever we saw down the stretch last year. The high fastball has been shown to be really effective if you’re a pitcher with a really high spin rate on your fastball. It keeps it from dropping as quickly, so hitters will typically swing under it, expecting it to drop like a normal fastball. If you don’t have that spin rate (and a good second pitch), a high fastball is a recipe for giving up a lot of XBH or HRs. I think more than anything, analytics and development techniques has just advanced pitching faster than it has hitting, so we’re seeing better pitchers than we have hitters in the Majors right now. It will be interesting to see if any changes are made to even things up.

That’s interesting…so the faster your fastball spins…it stays on the plane longer…the hitters can’t get on top of it. I saw an article discussing the Houston Astros and how their pitchers spin rates are monitored for the curve, slider and fastballs. These high tech cameras can actually count the number of rpms. Crazy.

Something needs to happen on the offensive side of the game. Just juicing the ball is not the answer. We need hits. There is talk of stopping the shifts, but I think the hitters need to learn to hit where the space is on the field.

Personally, I am for a pitch clock. I have never seen such dawdling around by pitchers waiting to throw the ball. Bob Gibson took about 5 seconds to throw it back. What is going on? That is another subject…average time of games…

That’s the way I understand it. Similar to how a bullet fired from a rifled barrel stays level longer before dropping.

Best advice I can give you right now is to be a Cardinals fan. :wink: They’ve been knocking it all over the park lately.

Really, the trend has been for more curve balls of late. Cleveland and Houston pitchers were curve ball guys. They were throwing it every pitch for awhile at Cleveland when they were winning championships. Others followed. Now if you have a Verlander, a high fast ball with heavy spin rate will wipe out most hitters.

I was told by college scouts that the college teams have gone to more and more curve balls. He pointed to Wes Johnson and said that he was a curve-curve-curve guy. And, that was to compare him to Dave Jorn, who called tons more fast balls than everyone else in the SEC. Jorn’s deal was to make sure that you could locate it inside and out and then drop in the change-up down in the zone to both sides. Now, if you had a good breaker, great. But he didn’t think you needed a breaker to pitch in college.

It looks like Matt Hobbs is closer to Wes Johnson than to Dave Jorn in the way he sets up games. It looks to be more breaking balls than fast balls. I know that Matt Cronin is the exception to that rule, although he’s going to have to develop that breaker going forward. He’s not confident in the breaker yet. When he does throw it, most of the time it’s way out of the zone (up) or it hangs. He’ll have to figure that out and use the breaker.

Maybe it is my imagination, but it appears our pitchers are shaking off more pitches than ever before.

Does the current pitching coach allow our pitchers more freedom in selecting what they are comfortable with?

As impressive as Campbell’s fastball is, his curve ball is a thing of beauty this year. He can and has landed it for a strike in just about any count.

I have heard DVH say that our pitchers have the option to shake off signs. He stated that it was beneficial for the pitchers to learn what doesn’t work as well as what does. He also said that the pitchers know which pitch they feel good about.


Maybe they can move the mound back slightly or just lower it…something has to be done to get hitting back into the game.

[/quote]I’m an old purest, which means I loved players like Rod Carew, guys who could always put the bat on the ball.

Anyway, the major leagues and its fans are in love with the Home Run. That’s what it’s about today. Batting averages would likely go up if they moved fences back 30 feet, but attendance would likely go down.

My point is that it’s hard to hit high fast balls a long way, it takes great muscle strength and bat control. Those who can have multi-100 Million contracts.

Dave Van Horn has always allowed his pitchers to shake off the sign. Remember, there is an ear piece with the catcher and Matt Hobbs is sending in the signals. But, just because the pitcher shakes off the sign doesn’t mean he’s shaking off the sign. I learned that when I was playing legion ball and catching.

I was 16 and was allowed to call the game for our 18-year-old pitchers, or something like that. Really, I’d just put down signs until I called the pitch they were going to throw anyway. When Gerald Hannahs was pitching, he’d often shake me off through all of his four pitches, sometimes twice. He was just letting the hitter wait.

I didn’t think too much about it. And actually forgot it. I was interviewing Nick Schmidt and I mentioned that he was shaking off the catcher, who was getting the signal from Dave Jorn. Schmidt told me, “I would never shake off Coach Jorn. I was just letting the catcher run through the signs a couple of times to confuse the other dugout, and the hitter, just to make sure they couldn’t pick up our signs or what was coming from the dugout.”

So I asked Jorn, and he said many pitchers do that. I then remembered Hannahs doing that to me.

Oh, one more thing, we had a back-up to the back-up catcher, a crazy tailback from Little Rock Hall named Alan Thompson. He caught one day when both the starting catcher and I were sick/hurt. Hannahs shook him off on one through four, so Alan put down five (all four fingers and the thumb). Gerald was laughing by then, and shook him off, wanting him to go back to one finger, the fast ball. Alan threw down his mitt and signaled six, then seven, Gerald still shaking him off. Finally, Gerald backed off the mound doubled up laughing and motioned Alan out for a visit. You’d have to have seen it to believe it.