Timing Part II: Pitcher's Perspective
Timing Part II: Pitcher’s Perspective
We’ll start this post the same way we started the other post on timing with the quote from Warren Spahn that “Hitting is timing and pitching is upsetting timing.”
Most of us understand the way that pitchers upset a hitters timing. They try to move the ball around and change speeds to keep the hitters they face off balance. But there seems to be a trend in the major leagues lately where more and more pitchers are using their pre-pitch routine and altered mechanics to throw hitters off.
Let’s take a deeper look into this cat and mouse game in an at bat between Johnny Cueto and Ian Desmond. Early in the at bat, you’ll see Cueto using his higher leg lift and turn towards second base.
Then, for the first time in this at bat, he switches to his “quick pitch” delivery where he basically skips his leg lift and slide steps to the plate.
This change in timing catches Desmond off guard and he’s left watching a fastball on the outside corner for strike three.
Here’s another great example in an at bat against Bryce Harper. The video on the left shows Cueto going right to the quick pitch delivery for the first pitch of the at bat. It seems to catch Harper off guard as he takes the pitch almost immediately after it leaves Cueto’s hand. Luckily, the pitch lands outside the zone for ball one.
He continues with the quick pitch delivery seven times in a row while Harper works his way to a full count fouling off multiple pitches.
Then he pulls out his higher leg lift and turn delivery as you’ll see on the video on the right. Watch as Harper starts his load expecting the quick pitch version of his mechanics and then has to pause and re-load before he swings and misses at strike three.
But like I said, Cueto is not alone in altering his mechanics to throw off a hitter’s timing. Oliver Perez is another pitcher using this technique. Check out the difference in these back to back deliveries he uses to strikeout Yasmani Grandal. Perez has more of a slide step delivery on the left and uses a higher leg lift with a turn on the right. Notice how Grandal has to adjust his stride and go to a toe tap instead of his normal leg lift to try to adjust to the different timing.
This is just one more tool that pitchers are using to make things even more difficult for hitters.