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Chat: Doug Thorburn

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 08, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Doug Thorburn.

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BP's pitching guru takes your questions.

Doug Thorburn: Grab an iced tea and let's sit down for some poolside pitching talks.

gilpdawg (OH): What is the word on Daniel Corcino? Horrible numbers at AAA. I know he's just 22, but the numbers are hideous. Maybe they rushed him a bit...or is he just not very good?

Doug Thorburn: The numbers are atrocious across the board, but there is some reason for optimism. I don't think that Corcino was rushed necessarily, but he has never demonstrated very inspirational control numbers. I like his power grades, from a mechanical standpoint, with solid torque and plus momentum (especially the second gear). His command issues come down to inconsistent balance and poor repetition of mechanical timing, and he lacks the top-end velocity to get by when his fastball command is off-track. Corcino has a future, but he is also a work in progress.

Alex (Anaheim): Just how huge will Kershaw's next contract be?

Doug Thorburn: It could be astronomical, especially considering the organization that is signing the check. The line starts at the 7-yr/$175M that Felix got from Seattle, and given Kershaw's current age (25) and level of dominance, I wouldn't be shocked if he cleared $200M.

On the jukebox: Black Sabbath, "Paranoid"

Jeff Samardzija (Shark-Infested Waters): Hi Doug. Do I struggle with mechanics? I'm pretty tall, and it took me a while to settle in as a starter. Was there a mechanical change that enabled me to break out? Did I add a pitch? Thanks!!

Doug Thorburn: I am a big fan of Samardzija's mechanics, particularly his excellent balance throughout the delivery. Tall pitchers often struggle to find stability during the stride phase, but this is not an issue for the Shark. The key to his breakout was the combination of repeating his delivery and maintaining velocity, as his fastball over the past four seasons has been 93.99 mph (in '10), 95.63, 95.94, and 95.82 mph this season. He is one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game, and he brings that nasty splitter to the table which opposing batters struggle to read out of hand. He does have some room for improvement with posture and momentum, so there is still some space before he hits ceiling.

drmorris (SF): Is Matt Cain doing anything differently right now? Because he's getting shellacked.

Doug Thorburn: When Cain has been off it has mostly been due to mistimed pitches that missed their intended locations. As a pitcher who relies on pitching on the edges, he has been getting hammered when he doesn't get the desired action on the slider or change-up.

He was really struggling to harness his slider against the Dodgers, missing low and/or to the arm-side most of the time; but Cain was also elevating his fastball, putting him in vulnerable positions when he got behind in the count. He threw 19 fastballs against LA that were either over the plate or very close to it, and 17 of those pitches ended up in the upper-half of the zone. Of the 15 sliders that he threw, just five finished to the arm-side of the middle of the zone. I think that he will be fine, and just needs to fine tune his timing. I wrote about it here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21002

On the jukebox: Sublime, "40 oz to Freedom"

Shawn (My Cubicle): 10 tm Dynsaty league- Segura or S. Castro/A. Jackson?

Doug Thorburn: I like Segura there, as such a power/speed combo is extremely scarce in the middle of the diamond. The reports on his bat were glowing coming up through the minors, and the speed is legit (26 of 29 in SB this year, 8 triples). I didn't expect Segura to rake in the bigs so soon, and his recent performance suggests that the league might be making adjustments, but I like the kid's chance to re-adjust and be successful.

John (CT): Josh Hamilton's recent performance is beginning to resemble that of his former self. Can he alone be the difference for the Angels and give them a shot at the title in the west?

Doug Thorburn: The Angels need help on the mound as much as at the plate. It is tough to trust anything that Hamilton does with respect to performance going forward, and Pujols' plantar fasciitis isn't going away. Weaver's recent resurgence has been a positive sign, as he has shutdown the offenses of Detroit, St. Louis, and Boston. But I think that they are a couple of arms short of getting back in this thing.

On the jukebox: Bernard Hermann, "Twisted Nerve"

teaaker (Seattle): Where does Julio Urias rank among the minor league pitcher talent pool?

Doug Thorburn: Urias is just 16, and there is so such a large gap between what he is and what he will become that it is pure guesswork to compare him to 20-year old contemporaries. So I would not personally rank him just yet, and would defer to Jason Parks and our killer BP prospect team for an apt comparison, as I have yet to see Urias pitch for myself. - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19492

jharrison3 (Illinois): With a HS junior who has a good FB(for his size, in the low-to-mid 80's) a good 12-6 curve, a circle-change that has above average movement, and a budding cutter that has more downward movement than side-to-side... With good command of all those pitches, would you recommend teaching him something like a slider, for the side-to-side movement for his appeal to college coaches/ increased success at the HS level? Any concerns with doing so?

Doug Thorburn: With a HS junior I would prefer to keep things simple - I would much rather that he has consistent command of three pitches than a deeper repertoire that comes and goes. I would focus on the FB, CB, and CH - let him worry about cutters and sliders when he has mastered his essential pitches. Most high school batters will flail against a pitcher with great location, but most HS arms severely lack command.

On the jukebox: Rage Against the Machine, "Bombtrack"

cabuendia (NoVA): Is Corey Kluber's success sustainable long term? He's had really good command in most of the games I've seen him, and the time I watched him get blown up live in Baltimore it seemed he just was getting the short end of the BABIP stick.

Doug Thorburn: A couple of questions on Kluber. I really like his delivery overall, with great balance, solid momentum, and excellent postural stability into release point. The key to his success is the effectiveness of that nasty sinker, which runs 91-94 while the bottom just falls out on the pitch, but his command of the sinker comes and goes. When it's on he is very tough to hit, but Kluber has a tendency to elevate when his timing falls off track.

Ray (Binghamton): In order, which of these pitchers do you think will have the best career: Corbin, Moore and Jarrod Parker? I know Moore is considered to have the best "stuff," but his control issues are troubling.

Doug Thorburn: I wold say Moore, Parker, and Corbin. Lefties with Moore's combo of a plus change-up and plus velocity are very rare, and he has the mechanical baseline to find consistency. I think that Parker is the safest bet to have a solid if unspectacular career (despite his early-season struggles), with a solid mix of three pitches, and with command of all three when his timing is right. Corbin's the wild card, in that his success is so predicated on the slider, which has been absolutely unhittable this season. If he carries that slider throughout his career then he could be incredible, but I worry about what happens if that weapon loses effectiveness.

On the jukebox: Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"

Sjcolmus (Baltimore): The Pirates' Josh Bell - Now that's he's healthy, does he justify that signing bonus?

Doug Thorburn: Bell has huge raw talent but still needs to translate it into skills on the field, and last season's knee injury didn't help things by delaying his professional education. I like that the Pirates splurged on Bell given that it was possibly their last opportunity to do so (given the new draft rules), and legit raw power has become a premium tool in the modern age. I like the trajectory, but time will tell whether he makes the adjustments to consider the money well spent.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Who are some good SPs who you think should be doing better/worse to target/dump in a trade?

Doug Thorburn: I think that the big trio of Hamels, Cain, and Price are good targets - Hamels has righted his delivery, Cain is just a minor tweak away from fixing his issues, and Price has looked better in his return. But those are easy answers. Parker has really turned it around from his early-season struggles, as well.

I would beware of Corbin and Iwakuma - I really like both pitchers, but they are playing a bit over their heads, and some correction is likely due. Travis Wood is not this good, and is due for a big correction. I am a big fan of Shelby Miller, but his 2-pitch repertoire could get exposed as teams get multiple looks - he is dead in the water on days when he forgets to pack his fastball command.

Oh, and never trust Francisco Liriano. His slider is taxing and he throws it 36% of the time.

Ray (Darien): Are you a believer in the theory that pitchers who rely heavily on sliders (e.g., Bumgarner, Darvish, Corbin) are greater than average injury risks? Also do pitchers with unorthodox arm slots (Bumgarner again) present increased injury issues?

Doug Thorburn: I think that it has a lot to do with the type of slider thrown. The degree of supination is a big factor, as guys who throw sliders with less supination (think faster and with less extreme break) are at less risk than those with big supination. A slider is just an exaggerated cutter, yet you never hear about guys throwing too many cutters, and many times it boils down to semantics.

Bumgarner's slider, for example, is only 3.5-mph slower than his fastball - most would call that a cutter, but the degree of movement earns a slider label. So I am not as concerned with Bummer, but in general, sliders are riskier than fastball, and I would beware of guys who throw a high percentage of slide-pieces that have a bigger velocity differential (such as the aforementioned Liriano).

On the jukebox: Judas Priest, "Green Manalishi"

Brady Childs (On His Couch in Louisville, CO): Why do Carlos Marmol's mechanics make me want to throw up in an airsickness bag? Am I correct when I hypothesize that Marmol's control could increase ten fold if he had proper balance?

Doug Thorburn: Great call - Marmol might have the worst balance in the game, an easy 20 grade. His command would certainly benefit from better balance, and there is no functional reason why it would cost him anything stuff-wise. They say if ain't broke, don't fix it - but it has been broken for years.

Ken (New York): Do you think Matt Harvey's success is sustainable, or will he become more hittable as he loses velocity to advancing age?

Doug Thorburn: Harvey has excellent release point extension, and this will serve him well even as his velocity degrades with age. He has an excellent mix of pitches that will also allow him to age gracefully, and the deep release point acts to disguise his stuff until late in the flight path. His change-up has been particularly tough to hit this season, and he has command of two distinct breaking balls. Buy, buy, buy!

Max (Westeros): At what point do people admit they were wrong about Chris Sale and that his mechanics, while not ideal, work for him?

Doug Thorburn: It's not so much that "people were wrong" about Sale's mechanics, as it is possible that both A) he is inefficient and B) it works for him. Beyond the scary-looking stuff with his limbs, Sale also has poor balance and a misdirected stride, which both create barriers to repetition. I am very impressed that he has been able to harness that delivery and overcome the obstacles, as it speaks very well to his development skills and learning curve, but he is still a risky proposition going forward (from both an injury standpoint and performance). Many pitchers improve these elements as they age, and I would like to think that Sale will continue to improve while keeping some of his signature style.

On the jukebox: Danzig, "Twist of Cain"

jcjohnson (DC): Have you watched Dan Haren at all this season? He's supposed to be back from the DL tonight in Philadelphia, and I'm hoping he's fixed whatever was causing his problems this year. Is he, like Cain, a pitcher who relies on location and has lost his timing?

Doug Thorburn: Haren is somewhat of an enigma - I have never been a fan of his mechanics, particularly the pause in his delivery, but he has defied the odds to repeat his odd timing pattern throughout his career. That said, the back issues have thrown a wrench into his approach, as you can imagine how much tougher it is to find that balance point during the pause with a sore lower back. He has always had spine-tilt, which is a precursor to shoulder injury, but Haren has survived a long time despite the issue. It is possible that his previous inefficiencies are catching up to him, or perhaps he is just outside of his physical peak, but has not been able to find that same magic that allowed him to beat the odds for so long.

Nick (California): What have you seen from Trevor Bauer this year? He's been all over the place mechanically and has displayed little to no consistency.

Doug Thorburn: Such is par for the course with Bauer. He is a student of biomechanics, but his knowledge has often led him to overcomplicate the delivery, and he has emphasized certain elements (ie momentum, over-the-top arm slot) over others such as balance and posture. He will continue to struggle with consistency as long as he pumps up the power grades at the expense of stability and balance, and his movement on the rubber and other complicating factors are deterring from his finding consistency. Similar to the question about the HS pitcher, I always say keep it simple until the pitcher has harnessed the basics, then start throwing in the advanced stuff.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Why don't more pitchers vary where they stand on the rubber based on the hitter, pitch selection, etc.? For a basic example, a lot of right-handed pitchers start on the first base side of the rubber to get the ball inside to LH batters. But that would seem to leave them somewhat susceptible to RH batters. So, why wouldn't a RH pitcher shift to the third base side against RH hitters, then to the first base side of the rubber vs. LH hitters?

Doug Thorburn: This relates to the Bauer question - there is an advantage to be had here, but the reality is that most pitchers (even at the highest level) are not great at repeating the delivery. Repetition of mechanical timing and positioning is the most important element of the pitching delivery, yet it is often sacrificed in the effort to find these tactical advantages such as downhill plane and creating angle on hitters. The vast majority of pitchers just need to learn to repeat their own mechanics, while the truly advanced guys can afford to tinker with angles and strategy - but very few are in a position to do so, and those who can repeat usually have less need to use trickery or deception.

On the jukebox: The Clash, "Tommy Gun"

Bill (New Mexico): Going into this season, BP and just about everyone else had Kevin Siegrist pegged as a marginal LH pitching prospect with a high-80s fast ball that probably wouldn't be enough for a career. Now he's a fire-breathing dragon who devours LH and RH hitters alike with a heater in the mid 90s. What changed? Just strength, or a mechanics thing? (Bonus question: if the latter, how many other marginal pitching prospects might benefit greatly from the same tweak, whatever it was?)

Doug Thorburn: To be honest, I had not seen Siegrist before this season, so I am not sure what changed. What I can say is that he has some of the Felix reverse-twist into max leg lift, and though he doesn't uncoil with crazy ferocity, he is able to finish with excellent momentum. He uses a closed stride that directs him toward the left-hand batter's box, but he is able to line up his rotation despite the odd pattern (some guys do this naturally). This is only a guess, but I would say that he probably learned to line up the gears of his odd stride and timing pattern, and he creates strong torque with his timing of trunk rotation allowing the hips to open and increase hip-shoulder separation.

On the jukebox: Led Zeppelin, "Night Flight"

BobcatBaseball (Athens, OH): What do you think is the most common problems you see with high school pitchers?

Doug Thorburn: Poor balance, rough posture, and inconsistent timing. The worst is a pitcher who has been told to create angle or to throw "over the top," because these get in the way of what he does naturally to throw a baseball, and in extreme cases can lead to future injury. My wish is that coaches would stop trying to reap these little tactical advantages and instead focus on the act of throwing, especially considering that most of the supposed advantages carry heavy cost - ie "over the top" costs twice as much distance at release point than it gains in release height.

Morgan (Austin): Do you go to a lot of minor league games? Do you live near any teams?

Doug Thorburn: I watched a lot more when I worked with the Sacramento River Cats! I have focused more on the MLB game in recent years, but the closest team to me is actually the San Jose Giants. I love minor-league ball, especially the development that can take place in such a short time - watch a pitcher in two starts that are separated by a couple of months, and he might look completely different.

HPJoker (On His Couch in Louisville, CO): If you have a pitcher who pitches well but has obvious mechanical issues, like Yovanni Gallardo a few years ago, do you change his mechanics in an effort to prevent injury or do you let him roll with it until something bad happens?

Doug Thorburn: I am all for addressing the issue as soon as possible, especially with younger guys. Pitchers who throw harder are naturally at higher risk given the elevated levels of kinetic energy flowing through the system, and mechanical inefficiencies can compound that risk. Pitchers tend to hit their physical/velocity peak in their low-mid 20's, yet they often lack the functional strength to stabilize the motion, so this can have a snowball effect. That said, sometimes it is too risky to make a change in-season, esp at the MLB level, in which cases it is best to address a major issue before they ascend to that level.

On the jukebox: Dredg, "Whoa is Me"

JT (Michigan): Can Gallardo get comfortable with his new velo and pitches, or is the arrow pointing firmly downward off the cliff now?

Doug Thorburn: Gallardo's mechanical issues create a serious barrier to repetition, and though he used to have the raw stuff to compensate for his lack of command, I don't think that he has the tools to survive as his velocity wanes. His over-the-top motion will always hide his lack of command somewhat, since he tends to miss above/under the strike zone when he misses targets, but without great bite on the breaking stuff or the velocity to compensate for his shallow release point, batters will be able to tee off when his arm comes through late.

Sully (Baltimore): Was Wade Miley's 2012 season an aberration?

Doug Thorburn: Yes

Jered Weaver (Chicago bound): Will I have time to change my mechanics one day, or am I in the roll with it until I crash and burn group?

Doug Thorburn: You have had the over-the-top delivery for a long time, and getting an old dog to learn new tricks is a tall task. Such changes can be made, but yours are so drastic and the costs are so high that it may not be worth the risk in case you can't make the adjustment. The toughest thing for a pitcher is to repeat the delivery, and you have that part down, so the Angels have to weigh the reality that you could take a long time to harness a new motion. The potential costs may not outweigh the potential benefits.

chitownjimmy (chicago): Just as a follow up on the earlier Marmol note above. One thing I noticed as an incurable Cubs fan was how Marmol's waist line grew after 2010 (you can do a Google images search of "Marmol 2010" to see the thinner version yourself). I know this may sound ridiculous, but do you think that extra weight in the middle could be the cause of taking his balance from bad to worse???

Doug Thorburn: He may be struggling even more than before to maintain balance, but it was so awful before that he rally didn't have much room to go further downward. His whole approach to pitching is imbalanced, with intentional manipulation of his head position, so I think that his issues are more based on intentional manipulation than a lack of conditioning. The spare tire certainly doesn't help, though.

On the jukebox: Yardbirds, "Happenings Ten Years Ago"

James (Chicago): How do you properly evaluate a sidearmer?

Doug Thorburn: Same as everyone else. Submariners tend to have poor balance early in the delivery, but straight sidearm guys usually have great posture since they are ignoring any "over the top" tendencies.

Shawnykid23 (CT): If you could change one pitcher's delivery and turn him into an ace or near-ace who would that be?

Doug Thorburn: Maybe Bauer. He is so cerebral, and if he could get the basics down and find repetition and stability, then he could absolutely take off. But its as if he is trying to take astrophysics without first mastering the underlying calculus. I love the momentum, but he is unable to control his own body at this point, and it's not from a lack of conditioning. He could maintain the elements that make him unique while finding his own personal timing signature, and once he has it nailed down, then we could work on sending him into space.

On the jukebox: Primus, "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver"

John (PA): What do you think of the way the Pirates handling Taillon vs the Mariners handling of Walker? Is there something that I am not seeing in the numbers, or is it just two different philosophies on how to handle pitchers?

Doug Thorburn: Different philosophies, but also different pitchers. That said, I think that Taillon actually came equipped with more tools to accelerate quickly up the ladder - I have really liked his delivery since high school. Walker is more volatile, and though he can look absolutely incredible from a mechanical standpoint in one start, the next time he might very well lose it. Walker has insane upside though I expect some speed bumps along the way, while I expect Taillon to have more immediate success once he reaches the bigs though he may not have such a vaulted ceiling as Walker.

BF (New York): I know there is no room in the Tigers' rotation, but do you think Drew Smyly's talent is being wasted in the bullpen?

Doug Thorburn: It depends on his change-up, which rarely makes an appearance out of the 'pen. A lefty starter without a change-of-pace can run into trouble against a platoon-stacked lineup.

On the jukebox: Aerosmith, "Dream On"

Justin Verlander (Detroit): This is like the third or fourth time I've told the press that I've worked out all the kinks with my mechanics--am I telling the truth now or are there still "adjustments" to be made?

Doug Thorburn: It depends on how it is being addressed. He arm slot is higher than last season, and though he talked about adjusting his shoulder angle to make the adjustment, personal observation tells me that it has more to do with spine tilt than shoulder abduction. It's not so much about telling the truth but rather whether they are addressing the elements that are actually causing problems, and from Verlander's standpoint, he is just trying to recapture the feel that he had the past two seasons.

Jerry (Baltimore): How worried should fans of Dylan Bundy be? Is this just a bump in the road, or are there long term concerns that could impact his development?

Doug Thorburn: Not everyone returns to full function, but the progress made on the TJS front provides plenty of reason for optimism. He was applauded for perfect mechanics in high school, but I saw a few issues that could be addressed - I'm not saying that these predicted his injury by any means, because he had a very strong delivery overall, but some were fooled by his statuesque finish after release point rather than looking at what was going on during the high-energy phases of his delivery. He had excellent power grades - torque and momentum - but merely average balance and posture, so he has a great baseline but with room for improvement.

On the jukebox: Drist, "The Scalpel"

stewbies (Rochester, NY): Volquez seems to be on a role. Do you know if he's doing anything differently? Should I stay away?

Doug Thorburn: Never trust a guy who walks 5 guys per nine - he is two starts removed from walking seven Dodgers. He has that volatile combination of big momentum and heavy torque yet rough balance and poor posture - he might be able to find his timing for single stints, but I would not trust him to repeat over the long haul.

Matt (NJ): Hey Doug, have you seen 3rd overall pick jonathan gray pitch at all? What do you think of his mechanics? Any injury red flags? Any guess as to whether he'll be able to maintain the elite velocity that made him the #3 pick over the long haul?

Doug Thorburn: I really like his delivery, in fact I prefer it to that of Appel. Grey has excellent balance and strong posture, and though he could use an uptick of momentum, he seems to repeat his timing pattern well. His velocity comes from equal parts upper-body load and delay of trunk rotation, and his ability to maintain velocity will be determined as much by his conditioning as anything else. I don't see any injury red flags, and I think that he has the build and the delivery to remain a starter as he climbs the ladder.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Despite looking good his start (albeit against the Mets), Ian Kennedy has been wildly inconsistent this year. Is that who he is at this point, or should I continue to hope he can be better?

Doug Thorburn: He can be better. He has excellent mechanical baselines, but like Cain, he is a right-hander without elite velocity who relies on pinpoint command to be successful. Kennedy's timing has been off at times this season, a pattern that he has shown in the past - his game-to-game fluctuations can be pretty stark, though he is great on those days where he is lining up the delivery.

Ellis38 (DC): If I were to think of Keepers right now....How would you rank these keepers if I can only keep 4? Explain the last couple if you would as a couple are obvious. J.Fernandez, Darvish, J.Parker, Bumgarner, P.Corbin, Gallardo, Cingrani.

Doug Thorburn: Darvish, Bumgarner, Fernandez, (gap), Parker, Corbin, (gap) Cingrani, Gallardo.

I think that Parker is the safer pick than Corbin, as mentioned above, but those who are not averse to risk might be more inclined for Corbin. I worry about Cingrani's fastball-heavy pitch usage, and that batters will be able to tee off once they learn to pick up his release point - deception can only carry him for so long. My dislike of Gallardo's delivery is well-documented, so I might be biased there - but he will not rediscover the numbers of his youth with diminished stuff unless he makes some serious changes to his mechanics.

On the jukebox: Jimi Hendrix & the Band of Gypsys, "Machine Gun"

Tim (Princeton): Is there anything in particular about Matt Moore's mechanics that you think is causing his control issues? It seems that he has a lot of raw talent but that his walks undermine his skills.

Doug Thorburn: It mostly boils down to timing, which is usually the last thing to come around for a pitcher. He also struggles to get the fastball inside to RHB's, this despite his starting on the 3B side of the rubber, and that has limited his ability to get ahead early in the count with fastballs. But he has plus balance and posture, so the mechanical baselines are there for him to line up his timing with more consistency.

Frank (Denver): Why do pitchers like Dan Haren and Jorge de la Rosa pause mid-delivery?

Doug Thorburn: The classic instruction is to "stop at the top" in order to "find a balance point." But this instruction has always seemed backwards to me - a pitcher only needs to find a balance point if he fails to start the delivery in a balanced position. Sure enough, many pitchers start straight-legged at set up, and the center-of-gravity lowers as they reach maximum lift - for this reason, I prefer that pitchers begin the delivery with some flex in the knees, to find that balance point right from the beginning, and that way there is no need to stop mid-stride and "find" their balance. In addition to making it easier to stabilize balance, this method allows a pitcher to generate momentum from a power position on two feet directly from setup, rather than propel forward out of a stopped position while standing on one leg like a damned flamingo.

On the jukebox: Thrice, "Cold Cash and Colder Hearts"

bryantloy (Illinois): Do you have a favorite pitcher to watch? Just someone who really intrigues you/you get excited anytime you turn on a game and he's throwing?

Doug Thorburn: Tons of names come to mind, but my favorite right now is Jordan Zimmermann. I dig his delivery, his pitch-mix, and his approach. He has excellent mechanics as well as room to improve. He doesn't chase strikeouts, which may not be great for your fantasy team, but I am more impressed by those pitchers who can consistently induce weak contact with a great pitch sequence than those who simply blow batters away with smoke and fire.

Marc (Brooklyn): Is there any pitcher in baseball for whom you would trade Matt Harvey (taking cost into consideration)?

Doug Thorburn: Considering cost? Nope. Guy is crazy good.

Shawnykid23 (CT): If you were a GM would you trade for Matt Garza? The talent is alwyas there, but the health isn't? Is there something in his delivery that lends itself to a higher chance of injury?

Doug Thorburn: Nope. Poor balance and terrible posture, combined with big torque and fast arm speeds, is a bad sign for shoulder health. Combine that with the fact that the shoulder has already been an issue, and that shoulder injuries are tougher to come back from than elbows, and I am staying away.

On the jukebox: Misfits, "Some Kinda Hate"

Larry (MN): What do you think of Kyle Gibson?

Doug Thorburn: Not bad, but some room for improvement. I like that he starts with some flex in the knees, but he also tends to hunch over a bit in the early phases of his delivery, and it looks like he could use some more functional strength to help stabilize balance. He is a low momentum guy with a short stride, and though he repeats it pretty well, I think that he could benefit from a stronger burst to the plate.

Chris (KC): Expand a bit on Matt Moore, if you would please, Doug. You said he has "the mechanical baseline to find consistency." What exactly does that mean? Every time I watch him I see a pitcher who struggles mightily to repeat his mechanics. His follow-through in particular is never the same twice in a row.

Doug Thorburn: By baseline, I mean that he has strong balance and finishes with stable posture, and he does so pretty consistently. He does struggle to repeat his timing, but the plus balance means that he will have an easier time figuring out that final piece of the sequence - timing is typically the final thing to come around. Guys with poor balance are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to repeating their timing, but Moore is over that particular hump.

What he fails to repeat is the timing of his trunk rotation, and the result is that he struggles to find a consistent release point, and the issue has been prevalent for a couple of years now. It makes me think that he is not getting completely square to the target (though I would need hi-speed video to confirm), and if that's the case, then Moore might benefit from adjusting the angle of his feet/hips from the setup position. If he is too closed at release point, then he should open up the angle at setup.

On the jukebox: Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"

smitty99 (Federal Way, WA): Have you been able to catch Zack Wheeler? Is he really nearly as good as Harvey? At least potentially?

Doug Thorburn: They are pretty far apart, but that has a lot to do with Harvey's continued improvement. I like Wheeler fine, and he has a bunch of above-average grades on his mechanics report card (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21072), but he lacks the release distance and the timing consistency of Harvey. Wheeler also has a very soft glove-side near release point. Repetition of mechanical timing is what separates the cream from the chaff, and in this case, the Harvey's from the Wheeler's.

Seth (SF): Re: Jonathan Gray. How does what you say about liking his mechanics mesh with what other scouts said about his "stiff front leg" perhaps relegating him to the bullpen? Are you just looking for different things?

Doug Thorburn: It is all about how we judge specific elements such as that stiff landing leg, as well as looking at and emphasizing different aspects. I do prefer to see more flex in the front knee from foot strike into release point, rather than a stiff front leg, but it is not nearly such a big issue as to relegate him to the bullpen. Justin Verlander has always had a very stiff landing leg, yet he seems to do just fine in the starting rotation.

Doug Thorburn: Thanks to everyone for all of the great questions, and for spending some time to yammer with me about pitching. We'll chat again soon, but in the meantime check out the latest episode of TINSTAAPP: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tinstaapp/id645849651?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4


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