D-backs’ Brent Strom says Ryne Nelson tipped pitches Monday vs. Cardinals

Jul 25, 2023, 6:30 PM

Ryne Nelson...

Starting pitcher Ryne Nelson #19 of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes the baseball from catcher Carson Kelly #18 during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 24, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks starter Ryne Nelson faced 27 batters during Monday’s 10-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and only drew six whiffs with one strikeout.

Manager Torey Lovullo’s alarm went off while watching the outing, noting how the Cardinals hitters weren’t biting at his offspeed pitches.

“He was maybe changing arm angles or something on secondary stuff they were seeing,” Lovullo said. “When you throw 96 and they’re checking off the secondary stuff with a good load, it makes me think that something was going on.”

Pitching coach Brent Strom backed that up saying Nelson appeared to be tipping his pitches, which means he was inadvertently alerting the Cardinals hitters what he was throwing based on his throwing motion.

Nelson still got through six innings, but he allowed five runs, including home runs to Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

A Lars Nootbaar single on a fastball at eye level in the fifth inning stood out to the veteran pitching coach, who also heard from “secret sources” Nelson was tipping.

“When I look at the board and I see one strikeout or two strikeouts for a guy like that, I know something’s going on, and that’s where we have to stay on top of this stuff,” Strom said. “I was a little derelict in not seeing it earlier, but my eyes have opened to it now and we’ve addressed it, so it shouldn’t happen again.”

Strom said tipping happens all the time in MLB, especially today with the amount of film and data on each pitcher.

“It can be the smallest little thing, you would be amazed at what it can be,” Strom said.

The Cardinals swung at 21% of pitches outside the zone and 73% of pitches in the zone against Nelson, according to Statcast.

This year, St. Louis has a 28.2% chase rate and swings at 65.7% if pitches in the strike zone, which are both near league average. Nelson gets chase 25.4% of the time with 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings, which are both well below league average.

Strom would not elaborate on what Nelson was doing to give away his hand, but he explained players can get into habits during a long season.

He made this case when discussing Scott McGough, one of the league’s most unhittable relievers in May and much of June. McGough has an 8.22 ERA in July, a difficult month for the bullpen as a whole.

Strom said McGough started to throw across his body more, which he feels has been rectified.

“Numbers don’t lie, and so we bring it to their attention, we show the video, we go and do some drills and hopefully that cleans it up,” Strom said.

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