Some Yankees relievers take forever to throw the ball. I don’t think that’s a huge problem, because they’ll forced to be adjust, but what I do think is that it’s important to know who they are. You can probably guess based on watching them and understanding their mid-pitch habits. In fact, I’m now recalling the sad memory of Clarke Schmidt pacing around the mound during Game 2 of the ALCS, when he entered at a bit of a surprising time.
After each pitch, his routine looked a little something like this:
- Fall off the mound after making the pitch.
- Get the ball back from the catcher 30 feet away from home plate.
- Take the long way around the back of the mound to the cleat cleaner and rosin bag.
- Take a big breath while rubbing the ball and wiping your forehead.
- Get back on the mound.
- Get the sign from the catcher.
- Come set.
- Take two big breaths.
- Check the runners.
- Throw the pitch.
I wish I was exaggerating. Watching Schmidt do this made the situation even scarier. I kept thinking, “Maybe he’s doing it because he isn’t confident and is trying to talk himself up.”
Regardless, it was awful to watch. Imagine trying to explain to the casual fan what in the hell was going on as the pitcher paces around the mound and slows down the game. It doesn’t make any sense.
If you couldn’t tell by the ranting, I’m very much excited for the pitch clock. I’m not sure if these Yankees relievers are, but it doesn’t matter. They have to speed it up. Now, let’s see who they are. My only disclaimer is that I’ll be using the Timer Equivalent measure on Baseball Savant’s leaderboard for when the bases are empty.
Michael King (50th overall, 15.5 seconds)
Michael King is another one of the pitchers who I remember breathing into his hands repeatedly between each pitch. Believe it or not, that time adds up if you do it enough and it leads to you working a teeny bit slow. He won’t have any issues with the clock violations since he is so close to the 15-second limit, but it’s notable that he has worked right around the cap.
Clay Holmes (42nd overall, 15.8 seconds)
Nominal Yankees closer Clay Holmes finds himself in similar territory to his fellow bullpenmate. The part that sticks out to me with Holmes is his hands movement when he comes set, but if he can speed how quickly he gets onto the mound, he shouldn’t have any problems meeting the new requirements.
I’ve been wondering what I would tell guys like King and Holmes if I was their catcher. Perhaps it would be something along the lines of waiting for the ball where you finish your pitch, and doing your pre-pitch routine right on top of the mound so that you’re ready to go to get the sign. It may take some getting used to, but you can lick your hands, breathe on your hands, and wipe your head while next to the rubber.
Jonathan Loáisiga (1st overall, 19.8 seconds)
Uh. Did you realize that Loáisiga worked this slow? Maybe I enjoy watching him so much to the point that I enjoy all the extra time he adds in between pitches? I don’t know, maybe I’m blinded. But now that I think about it, have you noticed how often he fixes his sleeves and reaches his arms up in the air for a big stretch? That takes longer than I realized! I can’t really blame him though. It seems like JLo always found himself on the mound in the biggest situations. Staying calm takes a lot, including time.
Two players notably not on this list are Aroldis Chapman and the subject of my introduction, Clarke Schmidt. Shockingly enough, Schmidt clocks in just over 11 seconds, but I imagine that was weighted by his time as a starter. Chapman was seventh-slowest in the league in 2022, but if all goes as planned, he will never toe the rubber with pinstripes on ever again.
The final notable pitcher is starter Frankie Montas. When runners come on base, he slows down a lot. He increases his time from 12.7 to 21.8. Maybe the speed up could help him with runners on base. We’ll see.
Anyway, I don’t think we need to worry too much about the slow-paced Yankees pitchers, but it will be interesting to see how they adjust to the new rule. Let’s hope they don’t give any balls away come April!