Garrett Richards' simplified delivery

Niastri

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Garrett Richards with a great start today. Some of the pitches he threw the Mets today were amazing.

If he has turned some type of corner, corralling his spin rate or finally repeating his delivery, the depth of the staff just got a lot better.

What went right with Richards tonight? Is it repeatable?
 
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CanvasAlley

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Garrett Richards with a great start today. Some of the pitches he threw the Mets today were amazing.

If he has turned some type of corner, corralling his spin rate or finally repeating his delivery, the depth of the staff just got a lot better.

What went right with Richards tonight? Is it repeatable?
For the past two weeks, I have been hopeful he would figure things out because we truly need him until Sale returns. Today was a great game!
 

curly2

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Not to mock the "spin rate" talk with Richards, but a lot of times before tonight, his breaking pitches were spinning a lot -- as the slo-mo showed -- but not actually moving much. Tonight his slider and curveball had great movement.

I hope it's sustainable. Cora seems to think it is.


Alex Speier tweet: Cora was asked what Richards had working tonight: ‘Besides everything? Everything. ... He can do this every five days.’
 

Harry Hooper

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Merloni on the radio for the game tonight spoke about a simplified, repeatable delivery for Richards.
 

burstnbloom

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Merloni on the radio for the game tonight spoke about a simplified, repeatable delivery for Richards.
he didn’t look like the same pitcher start to start. I don’t think he’s the guy we saw long term but it was a lot closer to recognizable Garrett Richards than the guy who threw the ball from 8000 different release points the previous start. It was an extremely encouraging performance and a credit to him and Dave Bush that they could rework an entire delivery in 5 days. I’m excited to watch his next start. If he can be a 4 era guy and not a disaster that will go a long way towards this team staying in playoff contention.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Merloni on the radio for the game tonight spoke about a simplified, repeatable delivery for Richards.
Eck and Remy were saying similar things. Seemed like he slowed himself down a bit and was much quieter early in the motion. Hopefully someone with the means and skill will do a side-by-side or an overlay comparison of his previous start and last night.
 

Chainsaw318

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Merloni on the radio for the game tonight spoke about a simplified, repeatable delivery for Richards.
Don’t know if you saw any of the telecast,, but Remy and Eck were commenting similarly, but focusing more on the speed of the delivery, that Richards had slowed up his motion substantially compared to the start against the Jays.

The one or two times that they went to video,
it was apparent, which gives some sense that it may be a repeatable thing, and not solely a good night where everything went his way.

edit: as was said above - this is why you don’t walk the dog before remembering to hit “post”
 

phenweigh

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Go ahead and mock it. Like speed it's a good indicator of "maybe there's something." But speed without control, and spin without movement is just that.
Can somebody explain the physics behind why 2 sliders with identical spin rates would have a different amount of break? (I'm assuming each slider is gripped the same way.)
 

ookami7m

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Can somebody explain the physics behind why 2 sliders with identical spin rates would have a different amount of break? (I'm assuming each slider is gripped the same way.)
Angle it is spinning will change the movement obviously (if it is spinning a full 90 degrees to the right it'll be different than 45 degrees to over simplify) and also velocity will affect it - how much time it has to move with that spin
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Can somebody explain the physics behind why 2 sliders with identical spin rates would have a different amount of break? (I'm assuming each slider is gripped the same way.)
As others have said, the angle of the spin. An interesting stat to look at is spin efficiency. It measures the percentage of a pitch’s spin that contributes to movement, and is a better indicator of success than spin rate itself
 

A Bad Man

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Seems to me to just be pitching from the stretch.

Edit: could be useful to break out Richards talk to the Richards thread.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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I had seen a writeup where he mentioned that he is focusing more on going North/South, and that from the windup he was moving too much East/West. That clip seems to support it (or maybe I am seeing that because I am expecting to.)
 

Al Zarilla

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The simplified mechanics are a spitting image of Derek Lowe.
I posted that in the game thread (even that he looked somewhat like Lowe, including his hair). He seemed to go after batters last night with as much confidence as any pitcher. 17 years since Lowe had that great post season. Hard to believe.
 

cournoyer

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I posted that in the game thread (even that he looked somewhat like Lowe, including his hair). He seemed to go after batters last night with as much confidence as any pitcher. 17 years since Lowe had that great post season. Hard to believe.
Sorry for the sidetrack, but looking at Lowe's BRef page, his last year on the mound was 2013 at the age of 40! The year before, he was a Yankee. Don't know if that just slipped my mind or it flew under the radar for me, but I found that interesting.
 

TonyPenaNeverJuiced

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I had seen a writeup where he mentioned that he is focusing more on going North/South, and that from the windup he was moving too much East/West. That clip seems to support it (or maybe I am seeing that because I am expecting to.)
This. I only caught the last inning of work last night but got the sense that Richards's North/South focus meant he's not dragging his right foot in the same way/for so long across the rubber.

So much is similar (landing on the inside of his left foot; the little twitch in the right foot at the end of the delivery; the little twitch of the glove hand flailing back after release), but that little difference in how long his right foot drags along the rubber shows you that he's got more momentum going towards home and less towards 3B.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Facing an NL lineup also complicates drawing conclusions about whether improvements for a pitcher are real.

I recall guys who looked great in interleague starts that regressed quickly when facing an AL East lineup again.
Not just an NL lineup, but the lowest scoring team in the NL right now. That said, most of the positive seen last night from Richards had little to do with the guys at the plate. He wasn't bouncing breaking balls five feet in front of the plate or missing the strike zone by a foot (like his previous start) and getting bailed out by guys swinging at them. He was hitting spots and was fully in control of every pitch.

Last night, Richards was the guy Bloom was hoping to get when he signed him. It does remain to be seen if he's here to stay or not.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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Make no mistake; I hope it’s real. And he was definitely putting plenty of breaking balls through the strike zone last night.

My fear is that some of those pitches looked like hanging curveballs to me (not that I could hit them, mind you), so I’m afraid of what big league hitters would do to them if they sat on them.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Did it appear to anyone else that he was exerting some serious effort in his pitches? I always hope/expect to see good pitchers look almost effortless with little strain. He did really seem to me to be going full bore (boar?).... and wondering if it even matters
 

burstnbloom

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Make no mistake; I hope it’s real. And he was definitely putting plenty of breaking balls through the strike zone last night.

My fear is that some of those pitches looked like hanging curveballs to me (not that I could hit them, mind you), so I’m afraid of what big league hitters would do to them if they sat on them.

I think there was a real tangible difference between who he was against the blue jays and who he was against the mets and that isn't just quality of competition.

40636

That was his last start against the blue jays (an abject disaster). You can see his four seamer was all over the place and his slider was mostly non competitive. those are his two most frequently used pitches.

Last night, he showed a significant difference in his delivery and had much better results, but look at the difference in pitch location that backs that up.

40637

The fastball is way more in control and a far more competitive pitch and the slider is doing what you want it to do by coming in just under the zone. I do see the hangers you're talking about with the curve (he should probably not do that against a better offense) but this is a way different performance than we've seen from him so far.

All that said, there is no way to know if he can do it again next start. Tightening up your delivery and repeating it is one of the hardest things to do in the sport but it wasn't just the lineup that drove that performance last night. He was objectively different. Now lets see if he can do it again.
 

Wallball Tingle

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I think there was a real tangible difference between who he was against the blue jays and who he was against the mets and that isn't just quality of competition.

View attachment 40636

That was his last start against the blue jays (an abject disaster). You can see his four seamer was all over the place and his slider was mostly non competitive. those are his two most frequently used pitches.

Last night, he showed a significant difference in his delivery and had much better results, but look at the difference in pitch location that backs that up.

View attachment 40637

The fastball is way more in control and a far more competitive pitch and the slider is doing what you want it to do by coming in just under the zone. I do see the hangers you're talking about with the curve (he should probably not do that against a better offense) but this is a way different performance than we've seen from him so far.

All that said, there is no way to know if he can do it again next start. Tightening up your delivery and repeating it is one of the hardest things to do in the sport but it wasn't just the lineup that drove that performance last night. He was objectively different. Now lets see if he can do it again.
Hey that's a very helpful post with actual data. Nice that he seems to have tightened the window of his pitches all the way around. Thanks!
 

nvalvo

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I like that he's throwing the curveball in the strike zone. He has one of the sharpest breaking curveballs anywhere, so he can challenge guys with it.

If I'm reading the baseball savant site correctly, he threw 20 curveballs, 13 or 14 in the strikezone, and he got two foul balls, two swinging strikes, 8 called strikes, and a hard hit out from Dom Smith. That's fantastic.
 

burstnbloom

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Hey that's a very helpful post with actual data. Nice that he seems to have tightened the window of his pitches all the way around. Thanks!
Thanks - Baseball savant is amazing. I hated watching that blue jays start so much and the pitch cluster gives me bad memories. 5 pitches above the batter's head shouldn't happen to a big league starter. Good on him for putting some real work in on the off days. Let's see him do it again.
 

TonyPenaNeverJuiced

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Did it appear to anyone else that he was exerting some serious effort in his pitches? I always hope/expect to see good pitchers look almost effortless with little strain. He did really seem to me to be going full bore (boar?).... and wondering if it even matters
Richards has some real jerky movements at points in his delivery, and that may create the effect you're seeing. But most of those moments occur once the ball is thrown (flicks his back foot in an awkward way, snaps his glove hand back and jerks his head in a way that looks more like what we expect from pitchers out of Japan).

In the end, his pitching arm doesn't do anything weird - his elbow is up above his shoulder, he gets the ball to his release point with his landing foot in a good position. If this were a high school pitcher I might tell him to try to cool it with the jerkiness, but if it's working (it did last night and has before), I'd just try to replicate the North-South body movement.

One last thought: one of the things I always thought Pedro had going for him was that his full wind-up started so effortlessly like he was so nonchalant you thought he might just toss you a meatball. His arm action was much more of a violent jerk, with his arm slot deceptively low. In total it looks so easy, but there was a lot of strain going into the arm action, something he's talked about on MLB Network if I'm recalling correctly. If you look back on his mechanics, when he took his first step back, his shoulders and hands looked so relaxed, but his arm is whipping towards the plate, nearly dipping to a sidearm angle.
 

Bergs

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Richards has some real jerky movements at points in his delivery, and that may create the effect you're seeing. But most of those moments occur once the ball is thrown (flicks his back foot in an awkward way, snaps his glove hand back and jerks his head in a way that looks more like what we expect from pitchers out of Japan).

In the end, his pitching arm doesn't do anything weird - his elbow is up above his shoulder, he gets the ball to his release point with his landing foot in a good position. If this were a high school pitcher I might tell him to try to cool it with the jerkiness, but if it's working (it did last night and has before), I'd just try to replicate the North-South body movement.

One last thought: one of the things I always thought Pedro had going for him was that his full wind-up started so effortlessly like he was so nonchalant you thought he might just toss you a meatball. His arm action was much more of a violent jerk, with his arm slot deceptively low. In total it looks so easy, but there was a lot of strain going into the arm action, something he's talked about on MLB Network if I'm recalling correctly. If you look back on his mechanics, when he took his first step back, his shoulders and hands looked so relaxed, but his arm is whipping towards the plate, nearly dipping to a sidearm angle.
To me, (and I know jack shit), I felt that he was losing his entire body toward 3B by an inch or 2, which resulted in an inconsistent release point. That video confirms what I thought I was seeing. I'm very excited for his next start.
 

TonyPenaNeverJuiced

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To me, (and I know jack shit), I felt that he was losing his entire body toward 3B by an inch or 2, which resulted in an inconsistent release point. That video confirms what I thought I was seeing. I'm very excited for his next start.
Totally. Mechanically, it probably led to all those high-in-the-zone pitches mentioned above and seen in previous starts: he wasn't getting the arm to the proper spot, throwing more across his body.
 

phenweigh

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As others have said, the angle of the spin. An interesting stat to look at is spin efficiency. It measures the percentage of a pitch’s spin that contributes to movement, and is a better indicator of success than spin rate itself
These weren't helpful because I did a poor job of asking the question, while making too many unstated assumptions. Of course velocity, spin rate, and spin angle affect movement. But it seems to me that a single MLB pitcher throwing a slider will be pretty consistent with all those inputs until he tires. So I'm befuddled when a pitcher who has been throwing good sliders throws one and Remy or Eck comments that suddenly a pitch is spinning but not moving. Did the pitcher suddenly change his arm angle or release point to change the spin angle? Seems unlikely to me. The velocity is shown and hasn't varied much and certainly wouldn't change a large break into no break with a drop of an MPH or two. I guess that leaves how the ball comes off the hand. Is that the reason? The pitcher is certainly attempting to use the same grip, but for some reason is the ball leaving the hand wrong?
 

StupendousMan

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Hmmm. I'm not a pitching coach, but I would guess that there are a plethora of factors that could cause pitches to act one one on Monday and another way on Friday.
- ball slipping from the grip due to sweat or rain
- change in grip strength due to blisters or sore spots
- change in stride length or pattern due to sore leg muscles or injuries to the foot
- change in arm angle due to any sort of stiffness or pain in the upper body
- and probably many more

As you state, if a pitcher _could_ find the right mechanics to throw a ball in a repeated fashion, then the break and motion on his pitches ought to be consistent from one day to the next. But real life probably gets in the way. In the list above, I mention "injuries", but even very minor aches or pains or stiff joints -- so tiny that a person wouldn't notice them under ordinary circumstances -- might be enough to modify the grip and motion to the degree that movement changes in a major way.

Perhaps one reason that some pitchers are effective, week after week and year after year, is not so much the ability to throw hard or with great spin, but the ability to perform somewhat-better-than-average in a consistent way. Maybe some guys have higher pain thresholds, or tougher layers of skin on their fingers.

This sounds like a good question for further investigation, particularly given the money associated with effective pitching.
 

phenweigh

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I intuitively understand why game-to-game variability exists. I'm befuddled by the outlier pitches within a game where it's clear the ball is spinning but not breaking.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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I intuitively understand why game-to-game variability exists. I'm befuddled by the outlier pitches within a game where it's clear the ball is spinning but not breaking.
Don’t overthink it. It’s just execution. These are humans, not machines. They have great talent and skill, but they’re not infallible. One element of their mechanics might be off by a millimeter or a nanosecond and what might normally be a quality pitch turns into a meatball.
You may as well ask why they don’t hit the catchers mitt with every pitch...
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Don’t overthink it. It’s just execution. These are humans, not machines. They have great talent and skill, but they’re not infallible. One element of their mechanics might be off by a millimeter or a nanosecond and what might normally be a quality pitch turns into a meatball.
You may as well ask why they don’t hit the catchers mitt with every pitch...
Yup. And the ability to be closer as a pitcher to a machine actually is what really differentiates the good pitchers from the mediocre ones. Pitching is F'in hard as F and the slightest differentiation in delivery along with all the other uncontrollable factors can greatly alter what happens during a pitch
 

Twilight

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And obviously we can't blame it all on pitcher inconsistency, either. A 10 mph breeze swirling around a stadium could be a tailwind on one pitch and a headwind on the next. That difference in "apparent wind" might have the same effect as a 20 mph difference in pitch speed.
 

Max Power

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Don’t overthink it. It’s just execution. These are humans, not machines. They have great talent and skill, but they’re not infallible. One element of their mechanics might be off by a millimeter or a nanosecond and what might normally be a quality pitch turns into a meatball.
You may as well ask why they don’t hit the catchers mitt with every pitch...
I think they were asking how two balls thrown with identical spin rates and angles don't do the same thing from a physics perspective. I think the answer is that they're not actually the same. Slight differences in spin rate, angle of spin, or angle of the seams as the ball is held make a big difference in movement.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I intuitively understand why game-to-game variability exists. I'm befuddled by the outlier pitches within a game where it's clear the ball is spinning but not breaking.
There are two important components: (1.) the spin rate (rpms) and (2.) the spin axis. A ball can spin a ton, but if the spin axis has gyroscopic (i.e. football spiraling) spin, then that type of spin will not contribute to movement. Statcast measures the spin that contributes to movement of a pitch as "Active Spin" percentage. If you see a ball spinning a ton, but not moving, it almost certainly has a lot of gyro spin.

One of my favorite quotes/sections on how a pitch can behave based on nearly imperceptible changes on how a pitcher releases a ball is from the book The MVP Machine, by Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik.

This excerpt is about Bauer learning how to throw a slider with more movement first by watching Stroman on video taken with a high-speed camera (Edgertronic). The whole book is fantastic if you like this type of stuff.
After the game, Bauer immediately dove into the video: eleven minutes and fifty-one seconds’ worth of Stroman throwing pitches, a global shutter capturing every detail in thousands of frames per second. In May, he shared the video with Travis and motioned to Stroman’s right hand. “You see his thumb?” Bauer said. “It slips really early.”
“His middle finger never gets to the front of the ball. It just kind of brushes the side of it,” Bauer said. “Then you can only see his pointer finger appear once there is separation between the ball and his hand. … The pointer finger pushes the ball [to Stroman’s left], which puts more of a sidespin component on the ball. When I saw this video I was like, I have to find a way to get my thumb to slip earlier while my hand is still behind the ball.”
Bauer took his experiment to the mound over the following four starts at Baltimore on April 20 (5.1 inches of horizontal movement), against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 25 (4.8), at home against the Rangers (5.4), and at Yankee Stadium (4.4). It still wasn’t working. A day before his May 11 start at home against Kansas City, Bauer discovered something while lobbing balls back toward the infield during batting practice. Instead of gripping the “horseshoe” part of the seam with his middle finger as he had since the winter—and as most pitchers do when throwing a slider—he tried throwing one with a two-seam fastball grip, only tucking his thumb like Stroman. He spread his index and middle fingers over a narrower stretch of parallel seams and tucked his thumb and locked his wrist as he always did.
The grip allowed his thumb to get out of the way, to create a pitch with a more vertical axis. His index finger made the last contact with the ball, just brushing it, to create an element of sidespin. He had the gyro spin and sidespin mix he was seeking. He knew he couldn’t get a perfect north–south axis. He was hoping to create an axis pointed toward him at about 60 degrees.
The pitch had an average horizontal movement of 8.6 inches, nearly what he wanted and roughly double where it had been in the previous six starts. The slider also averaged 0.3 inches of vertical movement relative to gravity. It was nearly perfect.
 

Al Zarilla

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Sorry for the sidetrack, but looking at Lowe's BRef page, his last year on the mound was 2013 at the age of 40! The year before, he was a Yankee. Don't know if that just slipped my mind or it flew under the radar for me, but I found that interesting.
Lowe left Boston after his 31 YO season. We did get the best out of him (19.4 BWAR out of 33.1 career total). He did have 3 good years with the Dodgers also. As for his longevity, maybe sinker ball pitchers last longer? I barely remember him as a Yankee also in that down year for Boston.
 

effectivelywild

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There are two important components: (1.) the spin rate (rpms) and (2.) the spin axis. A ball can spin a ton, but if the spin axis has gyroscopic (i.e. football spiraling) spin, then that type of spin will not contribute to movement. Statcast measures the spin that contributes to movement of a pitch as "Active Spin" percentage. If you see a ball spinning a ton, but not moving, it almost certainly has a lot of gyro spin.

One of my favorite quotes/sections on how a pitch can behave based on nearly imperceptible changes on how a pitcher releases a ball is from the book The MVP Machine, by Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik.

This excerpt is about Bauer learning how to throw a slider with more movement first by watching Stroman on video taken with a high-speed camera (Edgertronic). The whole book is fantastic if you like this type of stuff.
There's also a relatively recently described phenomenon called "seam-shifted wake" which appears to have an effect on pitch movement outside of spin rate and spin axis. It was hidden before because the "spin axis" for a pitch was calculated (rather than measured) by looking at spin rate and the pitch movement and sort of inferring a spin axis. New technology this year allows the actual spin axis to be measured and as a result there was the realization that some pitches "move" differently than their spin rate and axis would dictate. It seems like some pitchers (Kyle Hendricks, for example) get a lot of seam-shifted wake and it does appear like it can really affect a pitch's effectiveness (particularly cutters). I've been meaning to try to dig into this more, so I'll see if I can find good data on Sox pitchers in regards to this.
 

phenweigh

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Thanks for all the responses.
Don’t overthink it. It’s just execution. These are humans, not machines. They have great talent and skill, but they’re not infallible. One element of their mechanics might be off by a millimeter or a nanosecond and what might normally be a quality pitch turns into a meatball.
You may as well ask why they don’t hit the catchers mitt with every pitch...
Maybe you're simply using hyperbole, but I'm not buying that a millimeter or nanosecond difference would turn a quality pitch into a meatball. If so, no human could be a consistent pitcher.
I think they were asking how two balls thrown with identical spin rates and angles don't do the same thing from a physics perspective. I think the answer is that they're not actually the same. Slight differences in spin rate, angle of spin, or angle of the seams as the ball is held make a big difference in movement.
Depending on your definition of slight, this seems unlikely to me. From the Bauer excerpt in Tuff Ghost's post, it took a significant change in grip to double the break. It stands to reason that something significant must happen to turn what is usually a good breaking pitch into a spinner.

The post by effectivelywild indicates that new technology will be providing new insights into pitch movement. I'll guess such information will be effective for coaches and pitchers and we'll be seeing across the board improvement in MLB pitching in the not-too-distant future.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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So he’s eliminated a little step backwards/rotation at the beginning of his motion. What else?
Maybe it's the angle but it looks like to me that in the right frame, his release is a little higher and farther from the batter. That's probably good for movement.