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Raising Aces 

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04-18

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4

Raising Aces: Masahiro Tanaka, the Debut Ante
by
Doug Thorburn

04-11

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11

Raising Aces: Starting Pitcher Four-Pack
by
Doug Thorburn

04-04

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1

Raising Aces: The Aces of Opening Day
by
Doug Thorburn

03-28

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10

Raising Aces: Out on a Limb: 2014 Pitcher Predictions
by
Doug Thorburn

03-21

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3

Raising Aces: Bush League: Eddie Butler, Tyler Glasnow, and Alex Meyer
by
Doug Thorburn

03-14

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7

Raising Aces: Bush League: Jonathan Gray
by
Doug Thorburn

03-07

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9

Raising Aces: Over the Radar 2.0
by
Doug Thorburn

03-03

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17

Raising Aces: Under the Gun 2.0
by
Doug Thorburn

02-28

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1

Raising Aces: Bush League: Andrew Heaney
by
Doug Thorburn

02-21

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3

Raising Aces: Organizational Trends: Looking for Mechanical Hallmarks
by
Doug Thorburn

02-14

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12

Raising Aces: Bush League: Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez
by
Doug Thorburn

02-07

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5

Raising Aces: Bush League: Archie Bradley
by
Doug Thorburn

01-31

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12

Raising Aces: The Evolution of Pitching Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

01-24

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19

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Fade to Black and White
by
Doug Thorburn

01-17

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9

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Hall of Fame Inductees 1980-89
by
Doug Thorburn

01-10

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9

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Hall of Fame Inductees of 1990-94
by
Doug Thorburn

01-03

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9

Raising Aces: The Good Old Days: Nolan Ryan
by
Doug Thorburn

12-27

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19

Raising Aces: Examining Masahiro Tanaka's Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

12-20

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2

Raising Aces: Bush League: Julio Urias
by
Doug Thorburn

12-13

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3

Raising Aces: Bush League: Jameson Taillon
by
Doug Thorburn

12-06

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2

Raising Aces: Diff'rent Strikes
by
Doug Thorburn

11-22

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6

Raising Aces: Bush League: Robert Stephenson
by
Doug Thorburn

11-15

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18

Raising Aces: Bush League: Noah Syndergaard
by
Doug Thorburn

11-08

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11

Raising Aces: Great Pitchers, Flawed Mechanics
by
Doug Thorburn

11-01

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2

Raising Aces: Bush League: Kyle Zimmer
by
Doug Thorburn

10-25

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0

Raising Aces: How Long Home Runs Happen
by
Doug Thorburn

10-18

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7

Raising Aces: Bush League: Previewing the Winter's Pitching Prospect Breakdowns
by
Doug Thorburn

10-11

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2

Raising Aces: Set-up the Fall Guy
by
Doug Thorburn

10-04

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1

Raising Aces: Playoff Pitchers, and Pitches, to Watch
by
Doug Thorburn

09-27

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5

Raising Aces: A Taxonomy of Pitcher Triples
by
Doug Thorburn

09-20

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9

Raising Aces: The Top 10 Homers Hit by Pitchers in 2013
by
Doug Thorburn

09-13

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3

Raising Aces: What's the Point?
by
Doug Thorburn

09-06

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4

Raising Aces: Taijuan Walker, the Debut Ante
by
Doug Thorburn

08-30

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2

Raising Aces: A Closer Look at Relievers
by
Doug Thorburn

08-23

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2

Raising Aces: The RP-Funk All-Stars
by
Doug Thorburn

08-16

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1

Raising Aces: Elevator Action
by
Doug Thorburn

08-09

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5

Raising Aces: What Happened to Liriano and Masterson?
by
Doug Thorburn

08-02

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8

Raising Aces: What Happened to CC and JJ?
by
Doug Thorburn

07-26

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1

Raising Aces: There and Back Again
by
Doug Thorburn

07-19

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4

Raising Aces: Back to the Futures Game, 2013
by
Doug Thorburn

07-12

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5

Raising Aces: How the Mighty Have Fallen
by
Doug Thorburn

07-03

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5

Raising Aces: Stuffing the Ballot: Reliever Edition
by
Doug Thorburn

06-28

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2

Raising Aces: A Look at Rooks Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler
by
Doug Thorburn

06-21

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9

Raising Aces: The Cain Madness and a Troubled Helix
by
Doug Thorburn

06-14

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2

Raising Aces: In Need of Repair: Posture
by
Doug Thorburn

06-07

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6

Raising Aces: Changing Gears
by
Doug Thorburn

05-31

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2

Raising Aces: Splitting the Platoon: Lefty-philic Pitchers
by
Doug Thorburn

05-30

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2

Raising Aces: Kevin Gausman, the Debut Ante
by
Doug Thorburn

05-24

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3

Raising Aces: Splitting the Platoon: Lefty-Phobic Pitchers
by
Doug Thorburn

05-22

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13

Raising Aces: This Justin
by
Doug Thorburn

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January 31, 2014 11:49 am

Raising Aces: The Evolution of Pitching Mechanics

12

Doug Thorburn

From Walter Johnson to Lucas Giolito.

The perceptions surrounding the art and science of pitching have evolved over the history of major league baseball. Methodology has been shaped by example through elite players, molded by the evolution of game theory, and influenced by changes to the rules and dimensions on the field of play. More recently, the findings of statistical analysis and the study of biomechanics have impacted the ways that pitchers go about their craft.

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January 24, 2014 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Classic Deliveries: Fade to Black and White

19

Doug Thorburn

Scouting the deliveries of pitchers from the dawn of the television era and earlier.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at the pitchers who gained entry to the Hall of Fame during the formative years of my youth. Most of these pitchers hailed from the 1960s and '70s, with the occasional senior citizen (read: Hoyt Wilhelm) having gained notoriety in the '50s. The footage becomes more scarce—and less colorful—as we progress back in time, and the lack of video clips makes it more difficult to break down the pitching mechanics of the founding fathers of Cooperstown.

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A look at the mechanics of Catfish Hunter, Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, and Bob Gibson.

Five pitchers were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA during the 1980s, a number that feels light when one considers the half-dozen arms that were elected in the first five years of the '90s. But the five-pack fairly represents the average induction rate for the four-decade period from 1970-2009. For all the talk about how the modern era is underrepresented in the Hall, it is worth noting that the BBWAA elected just 0.32 pitchers per year from 1936-69 (11 total arms) but has enshrined 0.58 pitchers per year since 1970 (26 total, including the 2014 inductions of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine).

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A look at the mechanics of Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, and other immortals.

Pitchers naturally draw most of my attention when looking at the Hall of Fame, and the voting trends of the Baseball Writers Association of America reveal some interesting tendencies when one studies the historical record. For example, there have been a total of 35 pitchers voted into the Hall by the BBWAA across the 78-year span of the voting process, yet from 1956 to 1971, Bob Feller was the only moundsman to pass through the gauntlet. There were only three pitchers enshrined during the first 11 years of the 21st century, and all three were relievers: Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersley. But now we stand on the precipice of the Hall's floodgates being opened to pitchers, from the recent selections of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to next year's shoo-ins such as Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.

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January 3, 2014 6:19 am

Raising Aces: The Good Old Days: Nolan Ryan

9

Doug Thorburn

How did one of the most dominant, durable pitchers of the past do it?

During the 2012-13 offseason, I took some time to appreciate a few of the greatest pitchers of the previous generation. Some of these pitchers are due for Hall of Fame election in the next week, some are waiting on the doorstep while the voters decide how to handle an era tainted by steroids, and others are locks for enshrinement as soon as their eligibility clocks are sounded. It was not a coincidence that each of these legends had a mechanical profile that fully supported his prowess, but it was instructive to study how they had developed from the flawed hurlers of their youth into the out-generating machines that defined their respective peaks.

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December 27, 2013 7:42 am

Raising Aces: Examining Masahiro Tanaka's Mechanics

19

Doug Thorburn

Does the NPB pitcher's delivery bode well for his ability to weather a heavy early workload and make a smooth transition to the majors?

The biggest news to hit the yuletide airwaves was the official posting of star NPB pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. From now through January 24th, teams are expected to scramble for the opportunity to pay the newly-adjusted $20 million posting fee and sign the right-hander. The new import process all but assures that Tanaka will receive a heftier contract than previous NPB standouts Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, since the bidding war now benefits the player rather than his old ballclub (much to the chagrin of Tanaka's squad, the Rakuten Golden Eagles).

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A close look at the mechanics and performance of the precocious Dodgers lefty.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have made waves in the international market, with scouting director Logan White procuring a bounty of talent for the organization. Thus far, Yasiel Puig has grabbed the lion's share of the headlines, but the most compelling/intriguing international acquisition by the Dodgers camp may have been Julio Urias, the pitcher whom they plucked out of Mexico in August of 2012, just days after he turned 16 years old.

One would expect the development of a teenager to take a slow pace, with little more than an appearance in short-season rookie ball during his first season. The Dodgers kept Urias in extended spring training into late May, but then they gave him an extremely aggressive assignment to full-season ball, where he joined the Great Lakes Loons as the youngest player in the Midwest League.

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December 13, 2013 7:20 am

Raising Aces: Bush League: Jameson Taillon

3

Doug Thorburn

The stats don't capture the promise of Pittsburgh's top pitching prospect.

Jameson Taillon was the no. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of a Texas high school. Since that summer, the 22-year-old has taken a deliberate route through the minor leagues, spending some time at each level before reaching for the next rung on the ladder. The right-hander now stands on the doorstep of the majors, having finished the 2013 season with a month-long stretch at Triple-A Indianapolis, and he could very well join the Pittsburgh rotation by the summer of 2014 if he avoids derailment from his development track.

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December 6, 2013 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Diff'rent Strikes

2

Doug Thorburn

Breaking down the zone profiles of some of baseball's best pitchers.

The Minnesota Twins have earned a reputation over the years for their general preference toward “strike-throwing” pitchers who are adept at avoiding free passes, and the recent signings of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes only reinforce that idea. Nolasco has maintained a walk rate between 4.8 and 5.7 percent in each of the past six seasons, and Hughes has kept his at six percent over the past two seasons combined. Both pitchers have been vulnerable to hard contact, manifested in higher-than-average rates of hits and homers allowed, and the combination of box-score stats paints the picture that they spend a lot of time within the strike zone. But does the PITCHf/x data support that notion?

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November 22, 2013 9:07 am

Raising Aces: Bush League: Robert Stephenson

6

Doug Thorburn

A mechanical look at one of the highest-ceiling pitching prospects in baseball.

Robert Stephenson was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round (no. 27 overall) of the 2011 draft. Selected out of a northern California high school, Stephenson was the first prep pitcher to be popped in the first round by Cincy since Homer Bailey was taken with the seventh-overall pick in 2004. Stephenson began the 2012 season in extended spring training and did not make his professional debut until June of that year, but he cruised through rookie ball and spent two months with Dayton of the Midwest League. He returned to Dayton to begin the 2013 season, where Stephenson stepped on the accelerator and quickly rose up through the system.

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November 15, 2013 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Bush League: Noah Syndergaard

18

Doug Thorburn

A mechanical look at the 21-year-old Mets pitching prospect.

Noah Syndergaard was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft. Chosen out of a Texas high school with the 38th overall pick, Syndergaard put up enticing numbers as he rose through the lower ranks of the Blue Jays system. The 6'-6” right-hander was then utilized as a key component in the trade that brought R.A. Dickey to the Jays in the 2012-13 offseason, and continued along his developmental trajectory in his first season in the Mets system, reaching Double-A in June and improving as the season progressed.

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November 8, 2013 6:00 am

Raising Aces: Great Pitchers, Flawed Mechanics

11

Doug Thorburn

Pitchers who succeed despite less-than-perfect deliveries.

One of the most common questions people ask me is to name good pitchers who have bad mechanics. Of course, mechanics are too nuanced to draw lines in the sand of “good” and “bad,” but the question is fascinating nonetheless. The general rule is that the best pitchers have excellent mechanics, but it’s true that some of the top players in the game have flaws in their deliveries.

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