Colorado Rockies: The “inside” on how this tactic is changing the game
We caught up with Jake McGee on Tuesday inside the Rockies clubhouse for an exclusive chat. The 31-year-old southpaw says he has seen a change in batters who take as much of the plate as possible.
“I’ve seen more crowding. The last few seasons, there has been more crowding overall,” McGee said. “Different hitters will try to get on the plate more. Colby Rasmus did it a few years ago, really crowding the plate. (Curtis) Granderson would get on the plate here and there. Rizzo is really on the plate. Then you have left-handed hitters like (Bryce) Harper and (Eric) Hosmer who are farther away from the plate. Ryan Howard and Jim Thome and those guys were way off the plate and more open stance but then would step toward the plate.”
More from Rox Pile
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: What if Todd Helton had played football instead?
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
So how does a pitcher work on pitching inside and knowing the difference between controlling the inside corner and “pitching dirty?”
“For me, I learned how to pitch inside in the minor leagues,” McGee said. “Learning how to pitch inside for me is just trying to get on top of the ball a little bit more. Make sure it doesn’t ride up and away or up and in.
“The big thing for me is if you can throw strikes inside, the hitter has to respect each side of the plate. He’s not going to be diving in, especially if he knows you can throw a strike inside. He’s going to stay back more. If the hitter knows a pitcher can’t throw a strike inside, they’re going to be diving more often than not.”
Do those batters who crowd the plate change the way McGee pitches?
“There’s no reason for me to change my game plan,” he said. “You can’t change your game plan, hitter to hitter, depending on how close or far away they are from the plate. The plate doesn’t ever move. You stick with your routine. As pitchers, we’re programmed to throw and pitch and hit certain spots. If we try to change that with each hitter, it’s not going to work out well.
“You just try to make your pitches. If it runs in a little bit, you can’t really get upset about hitting a guy if he’s that a close to the plate and it’s not that bad of a pitch. Both sides shouldn’t get that mad about it.”
For McGee, he said pitching inside boils down to a very simple philosophy.
“Believe in your pitches. Believe you can hit that inside corner. Don’t feel bad if you hit someone because you miss a little bit.”
Using Baseball Savant, 12.41 percent of McGee’s 145 pitches (prior to Tuesday night’s game) this season could be termed “inside” to the respective batter. The highest percentage of inside pitches of anyone on the Rockies staff belongs to Chris Rusin, who has thrown 19.47 of his 190 pitches “inside.” The lowest? Scott Oberg, who was just sent down to Triple-A, at just 9.71 of his 206 pitches.
Oberg’s inability to finish off batters (partly by not being able to locate his pitches inside and “jam” the hitter) is one of the reasons why the Rockies demoted him to Albuquerque. Yes, the ability to pitch inside matters and makes a difference.
So what about the other side of the equation? What is a hitter’s perspective on the inside part of the plate? I had an exclusive talk with Charlie Blackmon about the changing attitudes of pitching inside and his perspective on it as a batter. Here’s what he had to say.