In my opinion, slight changes in mechanics and movement can always tell the story of a player’s ups and downs throughout a season. There’s a reason players go through ebbs and flows. Movement results in success or failure. For pitchers, the little details behind the way and direction in which they release the ball are enough to make the difference between balls and strikes.
Proprioception (the ability to sense one’s body in space) is a significant indicator of whether a pitch can make adjustments on the fly or not. Sometimes your body limits your ability to make these adjustments, and sometimes it’s their brain (it can also be both). Both affect proprioception. In the case of first-half sensation Clay Holmes, it was clear that he had some sort of limitation in how he felt where his hand was in space. When you depend on the forces of the offset wake, like Holmes, those slight differences have an even greater effect on where the ball ends up.
Let’s try to figure out how these exit point changes affected Holmes’ results on the field. We will do this through data and video.
As many fans know, Holmes’ breakout in the strikeout is largely attributed to his sudden ability to consistently throw the ball into the strike zone. His lead move was already unique. All he had to do was find the area somehow. His success came and went with his control.
Well. It’s a pretty steep drop! How the hell does this happen to a pitcher?
It’s impossible to explain for sure, but maybe there’s some efficacy to the idea that Holmes’ back was hurting him and he only really realized it when he was slightly more serious or intense enough to warrant a break. Usually a falling release point is a decent predictor of future injuries. Luckily for the All-Star reliever, it wasn’t in the stern version like it is with other pitchers.
It’s weird to see Holmes pushing the ball as much as he was in August. One of his greatest skills is his ability to stay behind the baseball and maintain a wide angle with his torso to accompany his release.
In July, all that disappeared. Holmes stood almost completely straight. This follows back pain or stiffness well. If you can’t bend, your torso will stay too straight, and that’s not good for a pitcher like Holmes, who needs a certain seam orientation (finger positioning) on the ball to keep his lead in. movement in the strike zone. .
There is something about this pitch (and those of the past few weeks) that is ever so slightly different from July’s shots. It is the difference in mechanics that produces a lower release point. In the clip against Joey Votto, he falls on his front leg block too early, and in the clip against Ryan O’Hearn, he doesn’t even allow his front leg to lock before he begins to spin his spine. Against Andrew Velazquez, his front leg pushes the force into the ground, sending energy back into his kinetic chain, which results in a solid stance and higher arm lunge. This is the crucial point. The difference in lead block strength and timing changes the trigger point and hand position.
Thanks to Holmes bringing his exit point closer to where he was at the start and mid of the year, the right-hander had some much improved exits. Seeing him induce a ground ball against Mike Trout was one of those batsmen that makes you feel way better where it is. Holmes’ first-half performance had a calming effect on the Yankees’ pitching staff. If they can get anything close to that performance, that’s one less area to worry about in the playoffs.