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July 8, 2013

Painting the Black

The Outside Man

by R.J. Anderson


Perhaps no piece of conventional pitching wisdom is as logical as the need to pitch inside. The act of pitching inside should, in theory, yield a number of benefits, ranging from less predictability to increased effectiveness on outside pitches. Pitching inside is also one of those things where each preceding generation did it better (anecdotally, at least) and more often than the current generation does. Still, nearly every revered pitcher will lecture about the importance of pitching inside. Consider Sandy Koufax, who, according to the aptly named book Koufax, once said, "Show me a guy who can't pitch inside and I'll show you a loser."

True as that may be in most cases, there is a pitcher in Detroit named Max Scherzer who might improve his record to 14-0 tonight, and in the process show that inside pitching is less important than it seems.

The average right-handed starter pitches inside more than a quarter of the time, according to ESPN Stats and Info's data. Scherzer, on the other hand, sees about 19 percent of his pitches register as the inside variety, the third-lowest rate in the majors, behind Jason Marquis and Bartolo Colon. It's easy to understand why with Marquis and Colon—two veterans without great raw stuff who stay away out of necessity. Understanding why Scherzer ignores the inside part of the plate is tougher to comprehend.

Our own Mark Anderson has a long history with Scherzer, dating back to the right-hander's collegiate days. "Even going back to his days at Missouri, I've never seen him challenge inside much," Anderson said. "His command isn't razor sharp to begin with so my hunch is he can't locate as well as he would like in there. So rather than risking it, he stays away more often than not."

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Related Content:  Pitching,  Scouting,  Detroit Tigers

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (07/08)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (07/03)
Next Column >>
Painting the Black: Er... (07/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (07/08)

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