Interesting post this morning from Henry Schulman on the Giants and what they would like to see from Zito’s delivery:
In the wake of two horrible starts, Barry Zito said he does not want to scrap all the elements of a new delivery that he had hoped would make him better, but the coaching staff wants him to tweak it in a last-ditch bid to make him competitive before the season begins.
Nothing like reading the phrase “last-ditch bid to make him competitive before the season begins” to really get your blood pumping. The results for Zito this spring haven’t been great; the left-hander has thrown 19.1 innings, given up 32 hits, 5 home runs, and walked 12 to 13 strikeouts. His ERA currently sits at 7.91. Yesterday, Jayson Stark tweeted that the Giants are growing concerned with Zito, and that an unnamed scout — take that for what it’s worth — likened Zito’s spring outings to “throwing batting practice”.
Let’s check out a few .gifs of Zito throwing in 2011 and this spring to see the differences in his delivery — .gifs after the jump
Barry Zito in 2011
In the industry they call this the “Standard Zito”. This is the Barry Zito delivery that we’ve all seen since he became a Giant. Hands start high, he rocks back a little to start his delivery, high leg kick, and fires away.
Barry Zito in 2012
This is from Zito’s last Spring Training start against the San Diego Padres. Zito’s new delivery has a totally different setup. He still holds his hands high (near shoulder level), but he has removed a lot of the pre-pitch motion from 2011. Zito is almost pitching out of the stretch now when he’s in the windup. He also seems to stand upright a little more.
Let’s check the side angle:
I’m not a pitching mechanics expert, but doesn’t that look like all ‘all arm’ pitching motion to you? To me, it really looks like Zito’s top half and bottom half are oddly out of sync. Zito worked with pitching guru, Tom House, over the offseason on the new mechanics. The goal: to have Zito throwing with more movement and velocity. But, from watching Zito pitch this spring, he doesn’t seem to have any finish on his pitches; breaking stuff is often floating up, and the fastball is all over the place. I didn’t include it, but when Zito is pitching out of the stretch, he’s really hunched over.
The biggest saving grace for Zito is that it is still just Spring Training. There are certain players that I think you need to see come into the spring firing on all cylinders. Barry Zito is clearly one of these players. The Giants remain in a pickle with Zito, and like it or not, the team is short staffed on pitching depth at the moment, so he’s going to get his chances to figure things out. Vogelsong will be delayed until mid-April in a best case scenario, Eric Surkamp is recovering from a strained flexor tendon, and the depth in the upper minors just isn’t there. The team needs Zito to go out, start the year well, and provide some kind of stability.
The Giants don’t start their season until Friday, April 6 in Arizona, and you can be sure that the team and Barry Zito will use all of it’s remaining time to try and get things figured out. It’s a tall order for a pitcher that throws 83 miles per hour these days without the ability to locate the ball where he wants to. It’s one thing to have Jamie Moyer’s stuff, but it’s quite another to try and get by without Moyer’s control.