Trevor Bauer on How to Invent a Whole New Slider
Standing on the mound, a major league baseball pitcher has 60 feet and 6 inches of air to get each pitch to sizzle before it crosses the plate. But it’s their arsenal of throws that separates a good pitcher from a great one. Two-fingered fastball, four-fingered fastball, slider, curve, cutter, knuckleball—each option spins differently to achieve a unique motion.
“There are so many different things in baseball that lend itself to science because it’s not so much of a physical game as it is a technical game,” says Trevor Bauer, starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Bauer is unusual for his knowledge of the physics of baseball. He studied engineering at UCLA during college, but cites his dad, a chemical engineer who taught him the scientific method, for his love of science.
Alex Lange Could Be Rare Homegrown Cubs Starter
Righthander Alex Lange came as advertised as a polished Friday-night starter for a College World Series program. One year after being drafted in the first round out of Louisiana State, Lange still shows the Cubs fast-track potential.
“He wants to be in the big leagues today,” scouting director Matt Dorey said, “and I don’t blame him.” Where the Cubs projected more from Brendon Little—a high-upside junior college lefthander—Lange figured to move through the Cubs’ system at a different pace. Together, they are the highest-drafted pitchers of the Theo Epstein regime, Little at No. 27 and Lange at No. 30 last year.
What happens on the mound has more to do with the mind than the arm.
The Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, will never be mistaken for a rebel. He’s a 58-year-old Harvard Law School grad who clerked for a U.S. district judge appointed by Richard Nixon; became a partner at the lofty Philadelphia law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and made his name in the league negotiating collective-bargaining agreements and investigating the Biogenesis doping scandal of 2013. The guy even wears a tie when he throws out the first pitch at games.
Yet as Manfred enters his third year as commissioner, no one should underestimate just how much of a baseball radical he is. Since taking over in 2015, Manfred has imposed new strictures on the use of instant replay, banished chewing tobacco from the field for new players, abolished the decade-and-a-half-old rule that the All-Star Game decides home-field advantage at the World Series, and now inaugurated the no-pitch intentional walk. But his most explosive ideas are yet to come. Manfred has floated the notion of limiting defensive shifts and the number of pitching changes a team can make, altering the strike zone, and shortening the season. He has even said that he’d consider, when a game reaches extra innings, automatically putting a runner on second base. (The rookie leagues are doing just that this year.)
How LSU pitcher Alex Lange, a driven, meticulous star, sees each pitch before he throws
Two hours and five minutes before junior right-hander Alex Lange throws the first pitch of the 2017 LSU baseball season, he will arrive at Alex Box Stadium — not two hours before, or two hours and 10 minutes before, but precisely 125 minutes before.
There is purpose to this. Lange is a stickler when it comes to organization and precision of his pregame schedule. He needs 125 minutes to flawlessly execute his routine, and Lange is obsessed with execution — so much so that you’ll have to excuse him if he doesn’t notice you on game day.