With pitchers and catcher reporting to camp, spring training is finally underway. Although some fans might not be excited until the regular season starts, the players are certainly ready to get back on the field and prepare for the upcoming season.
Spring training is often a time for hitters to find their swing, base stealers to condition their legs, and pitchers to find their touch. In addition, often pitchers will try out new pitches during spring training to see if they can add another weapon in their arsenal of pitches.
Here are four pitchers everyone expects big things from this season and who are also trying out new pitches this spring.
Jered Weaver, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace, had a fantastic season in 2011, going 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA. Apparently, however, that isn't good enough for Weaver as he is currently working on adding a cutter to his arsenal of pitches.
No doubt he's learning from Dan Haren, who has one of the best cutters in the game.
Zack Greinke, the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher, has an impending free agency after this season. As it has been reported, Greinke currently does not have an agent and he is insistent he doesn't need one anytime soon. Personally, I'd love to see him negotiate his own contract. It'd definitely be different and something new to discuss.
That said, Greinke, like Weaver, is also experimenting with adding a cutter to his pitch selection.
There haven't been many reports on whether Carlos Marmol is following through or not, but it would be great to see him add either a changeup or splitter to his repertoire of pitches in 2012.
I can't imagine Marmol with a splitter. It wouldn't be fair! This guy already strikes batters out at such a high rate. Could you imagine how many more he'd strike out if he had a splitter?
If you are unaware, a splitter looks like a fastball but then it will suddenly drop out of the strike zone and often bounce in the dirt. It's a devastating pitch, especially if the pitcher sets it up right. Hitters already have to worry about Marmol's great fastball and his slider, which is easily one of the best in baseball, so a splitter would cause even more swings and misses.
Michael Pineda, the big-time prospect the New York Yankees traded for in the offseason, already has a changeup, but he is currently reworking it to make it better.
Although Pineda is poised to be a great pitcher, his changeup does need some work. In 2011, Pineda's changeup ended up in the strike zone more frequently than any other pitcher. This also led to this pitch being below the league average on swings and misses.
It's good that Pineda can throw strikes with his pitch, but it's bad if he is doing it on 0-2 and 1-2 counts. The reason his swing-and-miss ratio, on this pitch, was not at the bottom of the league, and rather just below the league average, is because of his fastball; he throws so hard that hitters were out in front and it didn't matter that the changeup was in the zone. However, as hitters adjust, he'll get punished if he keeps making that mistake.
As you watch the Yankees develop Pineda, look for him to be working on that changeup.