FanGraphs.com’s David Laurila is one of the best baseball interviewers around. His posts provide fascinating glimpses into players’ personalities and approaches to the games and are always worth reading.
On Wednesday, Laurila posted the fruits of his interview with Indians pitcher Justin Masterson, who compares pitching to an art form as he discusses his approach to pitching. It’s a must-read piece for all Cleveland fans, as it shows that he is, in Laurila’s words, “one of baseball’s most engaging personalities.”
The biggest reason Masterson finds pitching fun: “it’s you out there by yourself.”
You’ve got your catcher kind of giving you a hint of what he’d like you to throw, but it’s your final decision. You’re facing this hitter — maybe it’s a clutch situation — and it’s just mano-a-mano. Once a pitch has left your hand it becomes a team game — maybe you’ll get a ground ball — but up until that point it’s just you going after that hitter. That, to me, is a lot of fun.
On the beauty of pitching as an art form, as opposed to an exact science:
Sometimes you want the pitch to be down and in, and it ends up being up and away — it’s kind of a mistake — and it still works. That can be how an artist goes about it. They have this idea of what they want, but sometimes random things happen and, “Wow, that made things better.”
How he developed his strategy of working almost exclusively with his fastball at High-A Lancaster in 2007:
Bob Kipper was my pitching coach out there, and he said to me, “Hey Justin, what’s your best pitch?” I was like, “My fastball,” and he said, “You throw that until someone tells you different. Watch the hitters and when they tell you that you need to mix it up, then you mix it up.” It’s a good philosophy and it seemed to hold true in that game.
I would strongly recommend reading the full interview, as Masterson gives nothing but interesting answers like these in response to Laurila’s great questions. Be sure to check it out.
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