Why Does YU Darvish Pitch Out of the Stretch?

Frank Jones

Why Does YU Darvish Pitch Out of the Stretch

In recent years, more and more MLB pitchers have been starting from the stretch rather than the windup. This trend has been especially notable among elite pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Noah Syndergaard, and Yu Darvish.

While each pitcher may have their own reasons for pitching from the stretch, the benefits of simplifying their mechanics and maintaining consistency in their delivery are clear.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why Yu Darvish, one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, has chosen to pitch from the stretch, and what advantages it offers him on the mound.

Whether you’re a baseball fan or just curious about the sport, read on to learn more about this intriguing pitching trend.

The mechanics of pitching from the stretch

When it comes to pitching in baseball, there are two primary methods of delivering the ball to the plate: the windup and the stretch.

The windup is the traditional approach, where the pitcher starts with a full leg kick, rocking back and forth on the rubber, before driving forward and delivering the pitch.

By contrast, the stretch begins with the pitcher standing upright, facing the plate, with both feet set and his hands in front of his body.

One of the main differences between the windup and the stretch is the amount of movement involved. With the windup, the pitcher has a more complex set of movements, including a leg kick, a full body turn, and a windmill arm motion.

In contrast, the stretch involves fewer moving parts and a more simplified delivery. Instead of lifting his leg and making a full turn, the pitcher will simply lift his front foot, pivot on the back foot, and deliver the ball.

By pitching from the stretch, Yu Darvish and other pitchers are able to simplify their mechanics and maintain consistency in their delivery. When a pitcher has fewer moving parts in their delivery, there are fewer variables to control.

This can help them to maintain their command and velocity more easily, as well as minimize the risk of injury. A more streamlined delivery also makes it easier for the pitcher to repeat their motion and throw pitches with the same release point and arm slot, which can be crucial for deception and keeping hitters off balance.

In summary, while there are differences between the windup and the stretch, pitching from the stretch allows for a simpler and more consistent delivery, which can help prevent injury and improve a pitcher’s performance on the mound.

Yu Darvish’s reasons for pitching from the stretch

Yu Darvish is a Japanese-born starting pitcher who has played in the major leagues since 2012. Known for his impressive arsenal of pitches and his ability to strike out batters, Darvish has established himself as one of the top pitchers in the game today.

In 2019, during his first season with the Chicago Cubs, Darvish began experimenting with pitching from the stretch. He had struggled with consistency and control in previous seasons, and pitching from the stretch was seen as a way to simplify his mechanics and improve his command.

Darvish’s pitching coach, Tommy Hottovy, suggested the change after noticing that Darvish seemed to have more success when he threw from the stretch during bullpen sessions.

Since then, Darvish has continued to pitch from the stretch, and has credited the change with helping him to find a better rhythm on the mound.

In an interview with The Athletic, Darvish explained that he feels more comfortable and confident when he pitches from the stretch, and that it allows him to focus on executing his pitches with more consistency.

The results have been impressive. In 2020, Darvish had one of the best seasons of his career, finishing as the runner-up for the National League Cy Young award. He posted a 2.01 ERA, struck out 93 batters in just 76 innings, and had a WHIP of just 0.96.

Pitching from the stretch helped Darvish to improve his control and limit his walks, which had been an issue in previous seasons. He also increased his use of off-speed pitches, which made his fastball and breaking balls even more effective.

Overall, pitching from the stretch has been a positive change for Yu Darvish. By simplifying his mechanics and improving his command, he has become an even more dominant pitcher on the mound.

Advantages of pitching from the stretch

While the primary advantage of pitching from the stretch is the simplification of mechanics and improvement of command, there are other benefits as well. For one, it can help pitchers hold runners on base more effectively.

When a pitcher is in the windup, they typically take a longer stride towards the plate, which can make it easier for runners to steal bases. In contrast, the stretch position involves a shorter stride, making it easier for the pitcher to make quick pickoff moves and keep runners close to the bag.

Another advantage of pitching from the stretch is that it can help pitchers to work more efficiently. By starting from a more compact position, pitchers can get into their delivery more quickly, which can help them to work at a faster pace and keep their fielders engaged.

Other notable pitchers who have adopted the stretch delivery include Stephen Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard. Strasburg, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career, began using the stretch more frequently in 2020, and saw an improvement in his command and velocity.

Syndergaard, another hard-throwing starter, has used the stretch for much of his career, citing its simplicity and consistency.

While there is not yet a large body of data on the effectiveness of pitching from the stretch, early studies suggest that it may be beneficial for some pitchers.

One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that pitchers who used the stretch had better control and lower stress on their pitching arms than those who used the windup.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of this pitching style on performance and injury risk.

Disadvantages or challenges of pitching from the stretch

While pitching from the stretch can have many advantages, it may not be the best option for every pitcher. Some pitchers may find it difficult to adjust to the shorter stride and altered mechanics, and may prefer the windup for its familiarity and comfort.

Additionally, some pitchers may not feel that the stretch allows them to generate as much velocity or movement on their pitches.

Another potential challenge of pitching from the stretch is that it may be less effective against certain types of hitters. For example, pitchers who rely heavily on their breaking balls may find that the shortened stride makes it harder to get the necessary arm angle and release point, leading to less effective pitches.

Additionally, pitchers who struggle with their balance or have issues with tipping pitches may find that the stretch exacerbates these problems.

However, these criticisms can be countered with evidence that pitching from the stretch can be just as effective as the windup, or even more so, for some pitchers.

While it is true that some pitchers may experience a slight reduction in velocity, others may find that the simpler mechanics actually allow them to generate more consistent movement and command on their pitches.

Additionally, pitchers who struggle with balance or tipping pitches may find that the stretch helps them to focus more on their delivery and stay more consistent from pitch to pitch.

Ultimately, whether or not to pitch from the stretch is a decision that each pitcher must make for themselves. It may take some experimentation and adjustment to find the right mechanics and delivery style, but with the right approach and coaching, many pitchers can find success with the stretch.

Windup vs. Stretch Delivery

MechanicsLonger stride, more moving partsShorter stride, simpler mechanics
CommandMay be more difficult with runners on baseMay be more consistent due to simpler delivery
Holding runnersMay be easier to steal againstEasier to hold runners and make pickoff moves
VelocityMay allow for more power and speedMay sacrifice a bit of velocity in exchange for consistency
Hitter’s perspectiveOffers a different look to hittersMay be more familiar to hitters
Pitcher’s preferenceSome may prefer the familiarity and comfort of the windupOthers may feel more comfortable with the stretch
Situational usageMay be used in certain situations (such as with bases empty)Often used exclusively with runners on base or in relief situations

The table compares the two delivery styles in several key areas, including mechanics, command, holding runners, velocity, hitter’s perspective, and pitcher’s preference. It also notes that while some pitchers may use both styles in certain situations, others may prefer to use one exclusively.


Do all pitchers use the stretch at some point in a game?

Not necessarily. Some pitchers may choose to use the windup exclusively, while others may use the stretch for certain situations (such as with runners on base) and the windup for others.

Can a pitcher switch back and forth between the windup and the stretch in the same at-bat?

Yes, a pitcher can switch between the windup and the stretch in the same at-bat, as long as they follow the rules regarding pitcher movements and don’t make any balks.

Are there any specific drills or exercises that can help pitchers with the stretch delivery?

Yes, there are a number of drills and exercises that can help pitchers improve their mechanics and comfort with the stretch delivery. These may include things like practicing pickoff moves, working on balance and footwork, and focusing on consistent arm slot and release points.

Is it common for relief pitchers to use the stretch exclusively?

Yes, it is fairly common for relief pitchers to use the stretch exclusively, as they may be called upon to enter the game with runners on base and need to be ready to hold those runners and make quick pickoff moves.

How do coaches and pitching staffs decide whether a pitcher should use the windup or the stretch?

This can vary based on a number of factors, including the pitcher’s individual style and comfort level, the situation in the game (such as runners on base), and the coaching staff’s preferences and strategies. In some cases, pitchers may work with their coaches and trainers to experiment with different delivery styles and determine what works best for their particular strengths and weaknesses.

To Recap

Pitching from the stretch has become an increasingly popular option for many pitchers, including Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg, and Noah Syndergaard.

By simplifying the delivery and allowing for more consistent mechanics, the stretch can help pitchers improve their command, hold runners on base more effectively, and work more efficiently.

While there may be some downsides or challenges associated with the stretch, these can often be mitigated with the right coaching and approach. As with any pitching technique, the key is to find what works best for each individual pitcher, and to continually adapt and refine their mechanics over time.

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