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Washington Nationals Minors: So What Is Pitchability?

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Instructors in the Nationals’ farm system discuss a new phrase …

Akron Aeros Vs. Harrisburg Senators 8-18-2011

WASHINGTON – Pitchers and pitching coaches have several terms and phrases that were not around a few decades ago.

One of them is pitchability.

So what is that?

“It is being able to make adjustments during the game,” said Justin Lord, a former minor league pitcher with the Pirates and Royals who is now the pitching coach for the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks in the Washington system.

“Is the hitter laying off my fastball or is he on my fastball? Is he a guy who is going to chase out of the zone or is he a guy who isn’t going to chase out of the zone? If it’s a guy that doesn’t chase out of the zone, you have to get that hitter with pitches in the zone,” Lord added.

Lord is a native of Alabama who pitched at Florida State and was signed as an undrafted player by the Royals. He pitched for Wilmington in 2003 when the Blue Rocks were part of the Kansas City system.

“Knowing the hitters’ tendencies is huge,” Lord told Federal Baseball last week. “We have some guys who are able to do that. Some are learning to do that. You have to be able to make adjustments” as a pitcher.

Brad Holman is the pitching coordinator in player development for the Nationals and is currently the acting pitching coach for Double-A Harrisburg as Sam Narron, who began the year with the Senators in that role, is with the major league club for now.

Holman was asked what pitchability means to him.

“We have a lot of data that we have compiled,” Holman, who pitched for Seattle in the majors, told Federal Baseball on Tuesday from Harrisburg. “These days nothing is a secret. We gather a lot of information about the hitter’s strengths and weaknesses. So pitchability is someone who can execute a pitch well enough to exploit the hitter’s weakness. That would probably be my definition. There are a lot of guys who are hard throwers but really don’t have the ability to command the baseball, to throw it consistently to a location.”