Baseball Prospectus sat down with Nationals pitching talent Ross Detwiler to discuss his future and Nationals baseball. In the interview BP’s David Lauria asks Detwiler about his approach against hitters, his answer reveals some interesting things about the Nationals pitching coach, Steve McCatty:
“DL: You’ve talked about the importance of working down in the strike zone.
RD: Our pitching coach, Steve McCatty, went up [to Washington], and he goes about things differently than any other pitching coach I’ve had. He’ll sit in the video room with you, and before you watch it, he’ll ask if you thought a certain pitch was a good pitch. You‘ll have to recall back to how you threw it, and where you think it was, and then he’ll show you on film that it wasn’t as low as you actually thought it was. In that sense, the way that he teaches made me realize that I wasn’t down in the zone that much, and that’s why everything was getting hit hard. That’s something that magnifies as you move up through the levels.
DL: Does your stuff play better down in the zone?
RD: You know, I’m not even sure. I don’t see movement from my end. But if I’m throwing a sinker, you definitely want to keep that down, because it gets flat as it raises up. Other than that, it’s just a lot easier to hit when the ball is higher.”
When McCatty filled in as pitching coach for the Washington Nationals following the firing of Randy St. Claire, I had some reservations with someone with his track record taking over. McCatty is an old school pitcher whose bright career lasted only eight seasons due to excessive overuse and the ignoring of arm injuries. At the time, McCatty talked about how he was more interested in getting a sense of pitchers’ feel on the mound than breaking down their mechanics. This further worried me that McCatty would coach more on guts than on numbers and logic.
However, this excerpt is promising because 1. he actually is using video analysis and 2. he is helping the players learn by first establishing their thought process and then analyzing the accuracy of their thoughts on the mound. This is a great way to help the young pitchers learn because not only does it teach them what to do correctly, but it helps them realize how their thought process works on the mound. This kind of analysis will help pitchers make on-the-mound adjustments, rather than waiting until after the game to see what went wrong.