Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

How to watch pitchers warm up

May 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Hitting, Pitching

In yesterday’s post I mentioned how often I notice pitchers not throwing from the stretch until they are in the game.  Of course, you notice that by watching the pitchers warm-up.  A great habit to get into as a player is

There's a lot to see if you are paying attention.

There’s a lot to see if you are paying attention.

to pay very close attention to the guy you are about to face.  Unfortunately, most hitters wait until the pitcher gets on the mound to throw his 8 warmup pitches before the first inning to watch.  It’s better than nothing but they could have watched about 30-40 warmup pitches if they paid attention a little sooner.

When I first would tell a player to watch him warmup I would often ask the player what he saw after about 10-20 pitches.  Usually the answers were like “he’s right handed and throws ok.”  After teaching my players what to look for, the answers were more like “three-quarter right hander probably around 80-82.  Fastball, curve, change-up.  Every pitch so far above the thighs.  Slows his arm up a little on his change.  Hooks his curve ball.  Always slide steps from the stretch” 

Which set of answers sounds better?

That’s because the hitters knew what questions to find answers for.  Here are some:

  • Righty or lefty?
  • Short or tall?
  • What’s the arm angle and does he vary it?
  • About how hard does he throw?  Below average, average, or above average?
  • What order did he throw his pitches in?  Fastball is always first but the second pitch he works on is usually his out pitch.
  • How many pitches does he have?
  • Does he tip any of his pitches off?
  • Does he tend to throw to one area?  Knees? Thighs?  Waist?
  • Always in the strike zone or rarely?
  • Does his breaking pitch start out of the zone and break into it or does it start in the zone and break out of it?
  • Can he throw his breaking pitch for a strike? (caught IN the strike zone)
  • How are his times to the plate from the stretch?
  • Does his accuracy / velocity change from the stretch?
  • Does he fall one way or the other after his pitches?

Those are a lot of questions but with practice, players just begin to notice patterns and trends pretty quickly.  Even when the pitcher warming up is pretty far away.

Going to the plate or taking a lead off a base already knowing those answers will make your players much more confident and much more prepared for success.

Tomorrow’s post: Don’t rely on teammates

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