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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pitchers: Pre-game routine (Part 2)

In the previous Pre-game routine (Part 1), I provided a pre-game schedule for starting pitchers.  The timing involved allows pitchers to properly prepare to avoid having a sluggish start to the first inning.  Today, I provide a suggested pitch-by-pitch routine when pitchers are actually on the bullpen mound practicing their pitches.  This too can be tweaked to fit the needs of individual pitchers.  Below the chart are some additional explanations of things that appear in the chart.

Chart Key:
FB = Fastball                    I   = Inside half or corner
CU = Change-up              M = Middle of the plate, low
BR = Breaking Pitch        O  = Outer half or corner
S / B = Strike or Ball


S / B

S / B
1. FB – M

21. FB – M

2. FB – M

22. FB – I

3. FB – I

23. FB – O

4. FB – I

24. CU – M

5. FB – O

25. FB – I

6. FB – O

26. BR – M

7. CU – M

27. FB – O

8. CU – M

28. BR – O

9. FB – M

29. BR – O

10. CU – M

30. FB - M

11. FB – I

12. BR- M

13. BR – M

14. FB – I

 % Strikes

15. BR - O

 FB % strikes

16. FB – O

 BR % strikes

17. CU – M

 CU % strikes

18. FB – I

 Wind-up %

19. BR – O

 Stretch %

20. FB - M

Additional Notes:

A starting pitcher needs to be efficient
yet thorough to ensure he doesn't throw
too much or too little in the pen.
  • After the first few fast balls it is important to alternate pitches frequently.  This is what pitchers will do in a game so it's important to get used to it in the bullpen as well.  
  • Another reason for breaking up off-speed pitches with a fast ball or two is to remind your arm of the proper arm speed needed.  One of the goals of every pitcher is to get their arm speed on all off-speed pitches to look like their fast ball.  In many cases, the arm speed does more to fool the batter than the break or speed of the actual pitch.  Mixing in a fastball gives your arm the reminder it needs as to what the arm speed of the fast ball feels like.
  • You'll notice that every pitch has a targeted location.  This process has a dual purpose.  It allows the pitcher to get his arm loose and work location at the same time.  When pitchers are able to do multiple things at the same time during their bullpen sessions, they are able to save on the number of pitches thrown.  In turn, these saved pitches can be reserved for later in the game when the pitcher may need them the most.
  • BR - M refers to a "get me over" breaking pitch.  Many hitters will take a breaking pitch early in the count so a pitcher must be able to throw it and have it end up in the strike zone if the batter takes it.  BR - O refers to a breaking pitch used as an "out pitch."  Both types of pitches are extremely important come game time so a pitcher wants to get the feel of both prior to starting the game.
  • You'll notice that all the change-ups are located down the middle.  I'm a firm believer that pitchers should aim for the center of the plate with their change-ups.  You want the batter to think it's a mistake fast ball down the middle so he is encouraged to swing.  If you get a batter thinking this, he will be way out in front of the pitch.  If that is the case, the last thing I want is for him to miss it.  If he hits it, it's probably an easy out.  If he misses it, unless he strikes out he gets at least one more pitch to swing at. 
  • The last 10 pitches are from the stretch.  I am constantly amazed how many pitchers I see at the high school level that do not throw enough from the stretch prior to the game.  This is a big reason why many pitchers are very vulnerable the first time they throw from the stretch during the game.  They just did not prepare themselves for it.
  • It would be nice to have  quality pitching coach with you while you are warming up to monitor everything but it is not necessary.  The "win" or "loss" goes next to the pitcher's name so ultimately it is his responsibility to make sure he is prepared.
  • It's important for pitchers to focus on what they are doing during their pre-game bullpen session.  It's also important to NOT take the results too seriously though.  Many great games have followed a poor bullpen session where the pitcher appeared to have nothing.  Of course, many pitchers have also left the bullpen on top of the world and never made it out of the first inning.  Do your best but stay level headed regardless of how you perform in the pen.


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