December 4, 2015
'It's nearly useless'
In the process of researching for my recent article on Dylan Bundy’s injuries and development I was able to get some quotes from Kyle Boddy of Driveline Baseball that didn’t make the final piece. While they weren’t published with the article, I felt they were important to provide context around how Kyle trains players at his facility, and what his thoughts were more generally around mechanical tweaks.
Boddy believes that it’s important to be strong and develop muscle that supports a pitcher’s mechanics. He notes that “the UCL alone is insufficient to stabilize the elbow at competitive velocities in professional baseball.” Boddy can’t speak to whether or not Bundy did a good job of building muscle to support his mechanics prior to joining the Orioles organization, but he believes that the idea that changing Bundy’s mechanics could have exasperated potential injury issues is plausible.
Boddy’s pitchers go through a rigorous system that ensures each player hits certain strength-related benchmarks. At Driveline Baseball, “everyone follows it - PlyoCare training and specific strength markers must be met by all pitchers”. For other aspects of pitching—primarily mechanics—Driveline is wide open to what works for different pitchers. Boddy says, “We do very little direct mechanical work with our pro athletes. It's nearly useless.”
Once again, for emphasis: “We do very little direct mechanical work with our pro athletes. It's nearly useless.” Tweaking a draftee’s mechanics before he ever throws a pitch in a competitive game is clearly not something Boddy would advocate for, and yet it seems to occur semi-regularly across MLB.
Dylan Bundy agrees. His quote from the David Laurila interview in the initial article says it all: “I should have just picked up a ball and thrown it. I’m a big believer in that; pick up a ball and throw it. If that’s how you throw, don’t change it.”
It’s worth noting that Boddy’s business is built around helping pitchers, in some cases major-league-caliber pitchers[i], develop velocity and become better athletes. In addition to training athletes at his facility, Boddy developed a resource to help pitchers understand how to get the most out of their bodies called Hacking the Kinetic Chain: The Complete Guide to Developing High-Velocity Pitchers. In the course of his work he’s helped multiple pitchers recover from Tommy John surgery, just as Bundy did after injuring his elbow with the Orioles. Boddy has done extensive research on how the body reacts to various movements in a pitcher’s mechanics, and thus is an expert whose opinion should carry some weight here.
[i] More than 50 professional pitchers work with Driveline Baseball, as do multiple universities including Oregon State and Vanderbilt.