Robert Stephenson: Mechanical changes lead to success Doug Gray May 17, 2013 9 Comments Robert Stephenson has been outstanding over his most recent two starts as he has thrown 12 innings without a walk or earned run and the right hander has struck out 16 batters. He gave credit to another Dayton Dragons starter for the improvement in his game. Sal Romano reportedly told him to just go back to his mechanics that he used in high school. I had seen Stephenson back on April 20th in Dayton where he threw 4.2 innings with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts. After seeing the comment from Stephenson about his change in mechanics I headed up to Dayton to watch him throw again. The results were outstanding as he struck out 7 in 6 shutout innings without a walk. Stephenson is a top end pitcher and the results weren’t the reason to make the trip up to Dayton though. The main focus was to take a look at these “old, but new” mechanics that had at least in one start (and two after the game) resulted in the best results of his season and the longest outing of his career (that he matched that night as well). Here is some of the video: So, what were these mechanical changes that Stephenson made and how did it benefit what he was able to do on the mound? To continue reading this article you will be to be a subscriber to the website's premium content. Content protected for Subscriber users only. Click here to read why some content is behind a subscriber wall. Already a subscriber? Log in below Username Password Remember Me » Lost your Password? Not a subscriber? Sign up now. $ 4.00 a month gets you full access to everything on the website. 9 Responses The Duke May 17, 2013 Another thing I noticed about that start was that he broke 2 or 3 bats as well. Most guys at that level have no chance to square the ball up when he ia spotting his pitches, they are just too nasty. G May 17, 2013 The question here, for me anyway, is was Stephenson working on staying tall and upright through his delivery to create downward plane because the Reds had him make this adjustment or was this Robert’s idea? what I see on this video doesn’t look like it needs much adjustment… I guess by staying too tall at release Stephenson arm was late so release point was early making pitches stay high. tell me if I’m wrong here. Doug Gray May 17, 2013 I honestly don’t know who had the idea to change him or why exactly they changed things up. In theory, what you say about his arm could be correct. Earlier this year, when he was struggling with his control, on the vertical plane he was often missing low rather than high. Kevin May 17, 2013 I love me some slo-mo. Nice feature, something you can only get on this site. One of the things that tracks with the resurgence (and that’s being generous since there never really was a surge to begin with in the 150 year history of the club) of Reds pitching, has been the involvement of Soto with the youngins. I like the idea of having a pitch specialist for every pitch. And there’s probably none more impt to the development of an ML starter than the change. An effective one turns every hitter into a guess hitter. How much will it cost to hire Rivera to teach the cutter after he retires this year? Doug Gray May 17, 2013 Tom Brown, at AA, teaches the cutter and he seems to be awfully good with it. The Duke May 17, 2013 We have any coaches who are experts at teaching a slider? I’ve also heard the expression that you can’t teach a good curveball. A kid has it in his arm or not. You can refine and improve mechanics, but some guys just can’t throw a curve. Is that true to some extent? Doug Gray May 17, 2013 I honestly don’t know if anyone we have specializes in the slider, but I will say this: Homer Bailey didn’t have a slider when he was coming up, but he picked one up in AAA under Ted Power and now that slider is one of the best sliders in the league. I honestly don’t know how much credit goes where on that one because I can’t think of someone else who has gone from no slider to a good slider like Bailey has, but I think it is at least worth mentioning there. As for the curveball, I have heard it too and I can’t say if I am on either side of the argument. With that said, I can’t remember a guy who had no curve then turned out to have a real good one after years of being a pro. Alan Horn May 17, 2013 It scares me when I see a pitcher is throwing a slider. That pitch leads to arm injury more so than any other pitch. I know some organizations in the past wouldn’t allow their pitchers to throw sliders. Most pitchers are going to experience a arm injury at some point in their careers anyway. It is kind of like smoking. I have known some people who have smoked until their death in their 90’s and never had any problems. Most are not so lucky. If you throw a baseball 90+ mph for any long length of time, you usually are going to have a arm injury, but there are exceptions. A split finger is also rough on the arm, but not that many pitchers throw it. Jon Ryker May 18, 2013 What you need to throw a good curveball is excellent arm speed and long fingers help…….this generates more rotational speed and a sharper break….long fingers make it easier to stay on top of the ball and pull down, creating a vertical break rather than the sideways one of a slider….this is why you see big power pitchers with big curveballs and sinkerballers tend to have sliders….So no, you have to teach a curveball, and it can be taught improperly, but it helps to have the physical tools if you want a big yacker….