Watching video isn’t really Marco Estrada’s thing. He’s not all that inclined to throw bullpen sessions, either. Sometimes he’ll stop after three pitches if he feels good. Other times he won’t throw bullpens at all. After 10 seasons in the major leagues, Estrada has a clear sense of what works for him, and what works is simplicity. In that context, it’s telling that he looked at video and threw far more change-ups than usual over the winter following a difficult 2017 season. If that work pays off the way he thinks it will, a more productive year awaits him. When Estrada looked at video from last year, he didn’t like what he saw. On change-ups, his arm slowed down just enough to let hitters know what was coming. The difference might be imperceptible to the untrained observer, but the footage stood out to Estrada. “It was a little easier to pick up,” he said. “I just telegraphed it a little more.” Estrada’s velocity ticked up last year. His fastball averaged 89.9 m.p.h, a significant increase compared to the 88.1 m.p.h. he averaged in 2016. That meant his change-up was also a little harder, but at times he tried to slow it down. “I could just see my arm wasn’t really getting through the zone,” he said. “I was trying to baby it … I noticed that I’d kind of slow my arm down.” Making matters worse, Estrada didn’t locate the change-up as accurately as he wanted. The results weren’t good. Hitters swung and missed at the pitch less frequently, and they picked up hits more often. Their overall contact was harder, too, as measured by exit velocity and xwOBA. Bottom line, his best weapon wasn’t as trustworthy anymore.
Blue Jays’ Estrada alters his routine to revitalize his best weapon
Sportsnet | Feb 18