How many times have you seen a pitcher start the year strong and fade down the stretch? The pitcher might complain of a sore arm and he just doesnât look the same as he had two months prior. It seems as if he has just broken down through the course of a long season. I believe a pitcher should not only get stronger but also improve as the season goes along. In this article, I will take you through what I do with our pitchers between their starts and how I handle our starters differently than I do our relievers.
Our starting pitcherâs rehab program begins immediately following the game. They come to me and get my stopwatch and run poles for twenty minutes. This allows them to immediately flush some lactic acid out of their system so they will not be as sore the next day. I also like for my starting pitcher to do some light tubing or go through our three-pound dumbbell routine. They will also ice and get treatment from our training staff. The day after their start is the hardest day of the rehab process for them. I have them run 25 minutes to keep getting the soreness out. After they are finished with their running, I have them go through their tubing routine, their three-pound dumbbell routine, and their medicine ball routine. I also like for them to get a good lift in the day after they start. I stress the importance of the day after they throw. I tell them what they do on this day dictates how they will feel leading up to their next start. I will scale back their running gradually as their next start approaches. I like for them to have fresh legs each time on the mound.
Next, I look at our schedule and see when their next start is going to be. I like to keep my guys on a rotation where they pitch on a consistent basis. I believe in having three starters and want them to throw every week, if possible. When I have determined when they are going to start next, I base their daily schedule towards gearing them up for the next start. The first day after our rehab day is always a mirror day. In my opinion, the mirror day sets the tone for the rest of the week. We use a really large mirror and work off of an indoor, carpeted mound. We dry throw and simply work on fixing mechanics and keeping them sharp. This is where I will fix anything the pitcher had trouble with in the previous start. I believe that once a pitcher sees himself pitching he is able to fix his mechanics easier. I tell my pitchers all the time: the mirror will not lie. We work through a series of steps in the mirror until we are throwing full motion.
The next day on our schedule is a short box day. Here, we work on our fastballs and changeups from the short plate. I want my pitchers working on their mechanics here without overthrowing. At the end of the short box, I will give them the choice of throwing a few pitches from full distance. This is totally up to them individually. After our short box day we will throw a full distance bullpen. I determine the number of pitches based on when the pitcherâs next start will be.
A vital key to our pitching program is flexibility. You have to flexible as a pitching coach and allow your pitchers to tell you how they feel. If one of my pitchers is a little sore I will tell them to skip the short box and long throw that day with our throwing program. I also allow our pitchers to choose what they want to do the day before their start. Kyle Owings and Jason Cochcroft will choose to throw short boxes while Bryce Davidson does not like to do any throwing the day before a game. I know this and work my schedule around their preferences. It is all about them being confident and feeling prepared. Bryce throws his short box two days before his start.
I handle our relief guys a little differently than I do our starters. They have to be ready to pitch on any given day. What I do with them is throw them more often in the bullpen but with fewer pitches. I do not like to sacrifice a mirror day so sometimes we cut out the short box.
As you can see, I am a big advocate of throwing everyday. I feel like this helps make my pitchers stronger and sharper as the year goes on. If they do get a little sore, I will adjust accordingly. What your pitcher does between starts plays a big role in how your pitcher will perform on game day. They should step on the mound every game feeling 100% physically and feel 100% prepared for the situation.