San Diego Padres: Consistent mechanics important for Cal Quantrill

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Cal Quantrill had a respectable first year with the San Diego Padres, but he’ll need to clean up his mechanics for a better year two.

Entering year two, Cal Quantrill is in a battle with Joey Lucchesi for the final spot in the rotation. And while he did all he could with a shortened spring training, starting the year in El Paso may not be the worst thing for him. Don’t get me wrong, he was great in three appearances, including two starts, this spring, but his numbers last year indicate that something went horribly wrong in September.

July was a great month for Cal, posting a 1.29 ERA, but in also recorded a 5.14, 4.02, and 4.88 ERAs in May, June, and August, respectively. I reviewed his spring training start against the Chicago Cubs when he tossed 3.0 innings while striking out three batters. An over-eager Cubs team aided the first inning, and he needed just four pitches to get through it.

However, I wanted to show you guys something that could potentially be troubling for Cal long-term if not corrected. Here he is pitching a fastball to Kris Bryant in the bottom of the first inning:

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Notice how the arm and body are nearly parallel with the ball hidden behind his body? I was watching Yu Darvish in the top half of the innings as well, and he’s become a successful pitcher because his mechanics look relatively the same on all of his pitches. On the fastball here, Cal plants his left foot, and it really just becomes a “grip it and rip it” motion.

Now let’s look at an off-speed pitch. See how there is a noticeable bend in his elbow? The ball is still fairly well hidden, but Willson Contreras can almost certainly see the “chicken-wing” motion as Cal delivers the pitch.

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Contreras didn’t offer at the pitch, perhaps knowing that the pitcher was trying to get him to swing over the top of the ball? Later in the at-bat, Cal tosses another fastball to Contreras. Again, notice how straight the arm is compared to his body.

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And finishing out the at-bat, Cal throws another off-speed pitch; this time, the elbow is not as crooked as the first one, but there is still noticeable kink. For what it’s worth, he got Contreras to swing at a ball down and in the dirt here, which is likely because the motion looked so similar to how he throws his fastball.

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For the final out, Quantrill got Kyle Schwarber to awkwardly swing over the top of a curveball low and inside. Again, his motion looked similar to the put-out pitch that got Contreras swinging. In an age where advanced sabermetrics are available to just about anyone, every mechanical movement is an advantage.

As noted, Quantrill is hoping that his dazzling spring performance is enough for Jayce Tingler to give him the nod as the fifth starter in the big league rotation. However, there were real issues last season when he became tired, as seen in batting averages third time through the order (.386) and in September (10.90 ERA).

Fatigue likely set in for him, which led to a breakdown of mechanics. A full offseason to prepare for a full season’s workload theoretically should have done wonders, but we won’t have a sense until we see him pitch in real games and multiple times through the order.

Another positive that I take away from last year, is that Quantrill’s pitches nearly produced the same batting average ranging from .243 to .280. Continuing to develop each pitch and additional spin to his off-speed pitches should make him a great candidate for a fifth starter.

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*All images are courtesy of MLB.TV