Pitcher is one of the most exciting positions to play in baseball. You’re the maestro of the game — you’re the only one to touch the ball on every single play and the pace of the game is in your hands. Speaking of pace, though, there’s a lot for a young pitcher to learn to pace himself and pace the game, both in the short and long term.
Pacing Your Pitcher — Short Term
Let’s start with the pitch-to-pitch pace. Something that a lot of young pitchers have a hard time wrapping their heads around is that they truly do have all the time in the world to throw their next pitch. Maybe not all the time in the world — there is something to be said for pace of play — but there’s no need to rush. We wrote last week about how mental errors can contribute to a slump, but in the case of the pitcher, there’s plenty of time for them to step off the mound, take a deep breath, and regather their thoughts before trying to throw the next pitch.
In the slightly longer term, from game to game, there are injury concerns to keep in mind. Overworking a young pitcher can be extremely detrimental to his health, so make sure that you’re pacing your pitcher to throw no more than twice a week to prevent excessive wear and tear. Recovery is one of the most important parts of maintaining a healthy pitching skill and strength development.
Pacing Your Pitcher — Long Term
In terms of long-term growth, pacing your development is hugely important. We’ve written in the past about when to start working on secondary pitches like curveballs and changeups. The way a young arm develops makes it risky to start learning a curveball too early. It’s also important to build up your pitch counts and inning counts slowly, again for fear of overworking a young arm. As your young pitcher ages, build up strength and stamina slowly to send him on his way to becoming a major league ace. But it all starts with developing control, so start by throwing strikes. We’ll work on the next steps as we get there.
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