Young Dodgers ace Walker Buehler has been quietly dominant this season.
The reason why I say ‘quietly dominant’ is because of how well his teammate, Hyun-Jin Ryu has pitched. Buehler has a 10-2 record with a 3.22 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 131.1 innings pitched. He’s also tossed two, historic complete games.
He is just 25-years old, and the future is bright for Buetane.
Recently Buehler took some time to discuss his repertoire, focusing heavily on his curveball.
Walker Buehler Discusses His Curveball https://t.co/4uuqQrqkdu
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) August 6, 2019
The entire article is worth a read, but here are some key takeaways, starting with his first curveball.
I started throwing a curveball when I was 10 years old. I learned it from a guy named Brad Bohannon, who is now the head coach at Alabama. He was a volunteer assistant at [the University of Kentucky] at the time. He was my first coach.
We worked on it, worked on it, and for a long time I threw it the same way. Same grip. I never really changed much, not even in college, but then when I had Tommy John, I talked to Carson Fulmer, and to another kid we had [at Vanderbilt] named Hayden Stone, who had a really good spiked breaking ball that played more like a slider.
Buehler digs heavily into several characteristics of his curveball — including hand and finger positioning — and his time working with the pitch around and even after elbow surgery.
Learning From Your Surroundings
After working with different grips and styles, he went back to a traditional grip thanks to some noodling with teammates.
Going back to the more-traditional grip was a matter of messing around with it in the outfield, and talking to Kersh [Clayton Kershaw], and talking to Rich [Hill]. Josh Fields was with us at the time, and I’d talk to him about it. One day I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try it.’
He explains that no one way of throwing the curveball is right for everyone, but more of the compilation of conversations and ideas on the grip and the pitch.
Talking to guys… you can kind of pick and choose from different guys. It’s kind of, ‘Hey, this is what I feel. Oh, that didn’t work for me. What do you do again? Oh, OK.’ Then you meld them together and come up with something. But that’s the start of every pitch, right? You have to find somebody else’s feel, and then make it your own.
I imagine the spin on mine isn’t quite what [Hill and Kershaw] get on theirs. Both of their curveballs are pretty elite. For me, it’s a speed-variance pitch more than anything.