Monday, April 14, 2014

Tony Cingrani shares his unique philosophy on pitching


Playing baseball at the major league level is more complicated than ever before. There is an endless supply of analytical tools such as heat maps, spray charts, and video for players to study. And all of this information can sometimes make the game more complicated than actually has to be.

Let's take Tony Cingrani for example. In a recent interview with Anna McDonald of ESPN.com, Cingrani shared his unique philosophy on pitching, which essentially involves a casual approach labeled "grip it and rip it." Simply put, the southpaw gives very little thought when he uncorks one of his fastballs to the plate.

"I don't even think about it. I just throw it," Cingrani says. "There's literally no thought process. It just goes. That's all it is." 

Cingrani relies on his four-seam fastball more than any other left-hander in MLB. Last season, he threw his heater 81 percent of the time, which was second in the league only to Bartolo Colon.

"That was just what happened," Cingrani recalls of learning to pitch when he was young. "I don't know. I never worked on anything." 

This is not typically the response one expects to receive from a big league player. But the simplicity of the Cingrani's unconventional approach is actually quite refreshing.

Of course, it's not as if Cingrani's stellar fastball came naturally to him without any outside help. Upon being drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2011 draft, the club immediately sought to tinker with his delivery to add more deception and velocity.

"The whole thing was timing with my lower half and my arm path and just allowing my arm to move a little more freely," Cingrani says. "It (the change) added a lot more velocity and deception."

Let's be thankful the organization decided to make such a move because it's proved to be a good one. Cingrani continues to work on his secondary pitches (change-up and slider) in an effort to not be so one-dimensional moving forward. In the meantime, his dominance on the mound suggests hitters are still trying to figure out how to adapt to his fastball, so improving his second and third pitches is just icing on the cake.

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