Pitchers including Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish and Noah Syndergaard are starting from the stretch, in an effort to more easily replicate their mechanics
Left, Juan Marichal, who pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 1960-73, throws a pitch. Right, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg in 2017. Photo: Getty Images (2)
This spring, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg asked a simple question that threatens to upend more than a century of baseball tradition: Why should he pitch one way with nobody on base, and another way with runners aboard? After all, he threw just as hard from the stretch as he did from the full windup, but with improved precision.
Strasburg did some research and embarked on an experiment. He ditched the windup and plans to work exclusively from the stretch this season, beginning his delivery facing third base instead of home plate. Pitchers usually deploy the stretch—a quicker, more compact delivery than the full windup—with runners on base to prevent base-stealers.
“It’s really not a crazy idea,” said Strasburg, who allowed five runs in 14 innings in his first two outings in 2017. “It’s all about repeating mechanics. What’s the difference with nobody on? Less is more.”