Listen to Kinesiology Expert Tonight

Tonight on “Inside China Basin,” Joe Castellano will be interviewing Sport Kinesiologist Angel Borrelli, a scientist who focuses specifically on the pitching motion.

FYI, China Basin is an area within San Francisco; the podcast is focused on the baseball Giants. Though this is not a Giants blog, obviously, some of you may be interested in listening — and perhaps calling in questions to — the show.

The show airs live at 9:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. PST) on Spreecast, and welcomes callers.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. argonbunnies March 28, 2012 at 4:48 am
    Sweet! Will watch soon. Dr. Borrelli shows up at 34 minutes in.
  2. Rob March 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm
    Hey Joe: Was wondering if you saw the Real Sports piece on HBO about the pitcher with the Mariners who had fractured his arm at the age of 25, rehabbed using a technique formulated by Tom House (heavy balls, release and no release, strengthening the shoulders back and front), increased his velocity to over 96 mph and is now pitching in the big leagues (end of last season and beginning this year). It’s a remarkable story and I remember you dissing House for reasons that I can’t remember. Can you give me a little more info on House and if you saw the piece, your thoughts on the rehab?

    Thanks and all the best,
    Rob

  3. Rob March 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm
    By the way, what’s amazing about this guy is that he has a plate and six screws in his arm, never progressed above rookie ball and never got above 90 mph before his rehab. Amazing stuff…and a really good story!
    • Joe Janish March 29, 2012 at 10:26 am
      Rob, thanks for the tip. I don’t have HBO so don’t know about this piece but will look into it.

      House spent many years experimenting on young professional arms with only bits of knowledge — the Rangers pitchers of the 1980s were virtual guinea pigs. Maybe after 30 years of playing mad scientist some of the paint he’s been throwing on the wall has finally stuck, but in general he’s dangerous because he’s always used science the way many use statistics – applying the bits and pieces that fit his personal theories.

      I did some cursory research on the story you cite — the pitcher is Steve Delabar. If indeed Delabar is throwing in the mid-90s because of House, then I expect to see dozens if not hundreds of pitchers throwing 95+ next year.

      • Fidel April 4, 2012 at 12:30 am
        Dozens and hundreds do throw 95 already. They just don’t have the mentality and consistency to make it and stick in the major leagues.
        • Joe Janish April 4, 2012 at 8:44 am
          Really? Hundreds of pitchers in MLB throw 95+? I challenge you to name just one hundred who legitimately throw 95+. Not “touch” 95, but are regularly between 95 and 100 MPH.
  4. argonbunnies March 29, 2012 at 3:28 am
    Rob, what’s this player’s name?
  5. argonbunnies March 29, 2012 at 4:19 am
    Just finished listening. Mostly general stuff, but a few cool specifics. The idea of “releasing” the forearm in between innings after throwing breaking pitches sounds great, as does “balancing” the forearm during recovery after an outing. I do wish I knew what “releasing” and “balancing” meant specifically.

    The point about staying perpendicular to the plate till your foot lands was well articulated. I’d always assumed that, to get the toe pointing toward home, you’d land with your hips already partly pointing home, as most pitchers do.

    Dr. Borrelli’s description of what she teaches pitchers certainly makes it sound as if pitching coaches are not well equipped to do even the instructional part. It seems to me like the thing she wants pitching coaches to handle is observing stuff in a pitcher’s motion with the naked eye, spotting fatigue and flaws. Once a flaw is spotted, fixing it is the province of the scientists. Sounds worth a shot…

    I like her take on pitch counts: pull a guy when he’s tired, regardless of what the pitch count is.

    (If the Mets had done that from 1997-2001, Rick Reed would have gone 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 150 innings every year.)

    Then correlate the recovery to how many pitches he threw, and he’ll be in good shape for next time, and ought to be able to build pitch counts through the season. This is actually what the big innings guys did in the 1980s and much of the 1990s. In 1993, Randy Johnson averaged 115 pitches per start in May and 137 pitches per start in September.

    • Joe Janish March 29, 2012 at 11:02 am
      I’ll ask Angel what “releasing” and “balancing” the forearm means; I’m guessing it has to do with some kind of stretching.

      As for landing, the toe ideally would be partially closed — similar to how batters land in their stride (in fact hitting and throwing are incredibly similar acts). The front/landing foot then pivots as the hips explode. If a pitcher lands with an open toe, the hips are likely to also be open, which means they won’t have much affect on velocity.

      Yes, pitching coaches are not well equipped to even COMMENT on mechanics. Even less equipped are knuckleheads like Mitch Williams — who regularly spouts off about pitching mechanics to millions of people on TV.

      Re: pitch counts, recovery, and work load — when I coached NCAA pitchers we had a progressive throwing schedule that worked starters up to 180 pitches every 7th day. That may seem incredible but we factored in pregame bullpen session and between-inning warmups (plus 15 pitches per inning). Kids reached that amount over a 8-12 week period. I wonder how many MLB teams factor in warmups when doing their pitch counts?

  6. Warren April 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm
    Joe, Did you see the big article in the Wall Street Journal on 3/29 about the Mets trying to keep pitchers healthy? The article specifically mentioned that there’s a controversy over the advisability of long toss and that the Mets take a compromise position on it.

    Warren