All Sorts of Goofy: Max Scherzer

January 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

(NOTE: Originally posted by myself at Bless You Boys. Go there for lots of great Detroit Tigers related content created by fans)

Originally I didn’t plan on doing a post this soon because I wanted to do some more studying of pitching mechanics and provide some more in depth information for you guys. But than NCDee requested Max Scherzer and I decided that he would be what I studied around and would be my next post. So than I looked for a video, found one, and saw some…things. Figured I’d tell you guys because this guy to me is interesting. The things after the jump.

First off HERES the video. It’s actually a very nice one at that and shot fairly recently.

On to the analysis.

The Good: Well, it’s hard to explain what’s good about this windup. He seems to get a good wheel action with his throwing arm. We’ll just go to my next category…

The Goofy: I can fill this one up with stuff because Max’s delivery, well it’s got goofy written all over it. I’ll bullet the goofiness.

* He brings his glove over his head. I know this is semi-common among pitchers but I have problems with it. Basically it’s unnecessary movement and such movements can mess with a pitchers timing and timing is pretty essential to maintaining the kinetic chain of the windup. Now to explain kinetic chain simply (and badly): it is essentially the series of motions that the body (and it’s muscles/bones) go through to create velocity, control, and movement on the pitch. So this unnecessary movement can become easily mistimed (rushed or slowed) and thus throw off the series of events needed to make a good pitch. Having to bring the glove over the head and back down can lead to either breaking the hands to early or to late. Too late being after forward motion begins, too early being before the leg kick reaches it’s peak. Ideally, forward motion doesn’t begin until the hands break.
* He swings his leg after the kick. This is once again wasted movement. There is no real good reason to swing your leg in your windup. I feel part of the reason he does this has to do with the extra time it takes for him to get to the point where he’s ready to break his hands. By swinging his leg he isn’t creating any forward movement at all but keeping his body at the start position essentially. Again, a timing issue that could cause him to move forward before he’s ready to enter the “wheel” motion with his throwing arm.
* Dudes got two different color eyes. That’s just plain old goofy. Nothing to do with pitching mechanics really, but goofy none the less.

The Bad: Heres where I explain the bad stuff of the delivery. These things are likely to cause injury due to unnecessary stress to various parts involved within the kinetic chain and/or cause lost velocity/control.

In the case of Max Scherzer the beginning and middle parts of his delivery are well…goofy. Hands over the head, swinging the leg, multi colored eyes. The end of the delivery however, reveals some problems that absolutely need to be fixed. I’ll number these points in order of appearance in the video.

1. The first occurs with the plant foot. One thing I’ve learned so far is that you plant your foot on a slightly bent knee and than have it straightened again by the end of the delivery of the pitch. Looking at Max Scherzer it at first appears the the leg never straightens. Which in it’s self is a bad thing. I mean really your just stopping your whole body from moving forward, which is the point of even stepping forward in the first place. This is bad for velocity for one thing and too make up for the lack of velocity, it becomes very easy to try and use to much of the arm to try and add velocity to the pitch. This puts undue stress upon the throwing arm. If you watch carefully though you’ll see that the leg does straighten, but it’s more of a snap of the knee. So now we have two problems going on here because the snap of the knee doesn’t particularly address the issue of restraightening the plant leg and for anybody that has ever violently moved a joint before, you know that that quick jerk of the knee can’t be very stressless. To me this equals problem.
2. This could be 1B really because both these events occur at practically the same time, but the glove hand comes back behind the body during/after the pitch. Kinda defeats the purpose of all that other stuff involved in getting your momentum moving towards home plate. Even though in the negative affect of this particular motion is essentially nil to the larger positive affect by all previous motions, it really shouldn’t be there. Combine it with point one and your just stock piling negativity a crucial point in the delivery: the release. Ideally, the glove gets tucked into the armpit and remains there until after release. There really is no cause for injury alert here though.
3. This one is very slight and the only reason I remember to check this is because Kurt posted a link one time regarding someones (might’ve been Max’s) pitching mechanics. And what I’m about to say is something they addressed in the video. After the pitch watch the pitching arm. What Max does is stop the arm and than swing it in front of him. Basically the problem is this, you should never forcibly stop your own body while making a pitch. It’s why you continue to throw the ball when the batter steps out, it’s part of why you restraighten your leg, it’s why you let the arm move naturally after the pitch. To stop anything from it’s natural motion is to cause undue stress to the body. At this point we’re truly messing with the pitching arm. Last I checked the pitching arm was important. This may be small but it’s unnecessary risk.

MadPoopz final verdict: It appears that our newly acquired pitcher has some bad habits. Fortunately these habits are very fixable. Justin Verlander learned to bend his plant leg for the ’09 season, I’m thinking that Max can learn to straighten his. Based upon the fact that Rick Knapp had Justin learn to bend his leg, I’m thinking that Knapp has noticed all the things that I have just pointed out and will help Max accordingly. The positive spin here is that these fixes have impact on things like velocity. If people thought this kid had potential before, fix this stuff and than we’ll really see what kind of potential is there. Don’t expect the goofy stuff to change though. There are lots of successful pitchers out there with some goofy goings on in the windup…no real reason to mess with Max’s. After all, it’s good to be unique.

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The Mechanics of a Good Pitch… The Kinetic Chain…

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