=== Sidd Finch Dept. ===
Edit to add, we had a chance to slo-mo Pineda's throwing motion here tonight. Now we got it. :- )
What we had thought was an extreme short-arm motion, actually isn't, not as much as we thought it was. What is strange is that Pineda under-rotates his torso, creating the same effect that short-arm pitchers get but through a different movement.
(Almost) all pitchers turn their numbers to the hitter at least a little bit, and 80%-90% of pitchers, you'll be able to get a glimpse of the ball on the 1B side of their bodies for a moment. Tim Lincecum is the best example of this, turning so far that he like pinches his neck. Erik Bedard also does this, and Felix has taken to copying Erik.
Pineda, on his backstroke, rotates his torso virtually not at all. He simply drops his back knee and sort of slides his left side directly toward home plate -- in a sense without winding up. Bizarre! Jim Kaat used to do that.
As his hands break, Pineda does reach his hand back until his elbow is about 90% extended -- but because his torso is not rotated, the ball is actually pointing towards the SS side of 2B at this point. (I don't ever remember seeing any other professional pitcher for whom this is true.)
"At the top," meaning at the moment of "zero gravity" in which he is all the way back, Pineda's torso is only very slightly turned -- maybe a few inches -- and the ball is behind him, hidden from the batter.
Pineda launches into his throughstroke using an incredibly powerful snap of his left hip and shoulder -- and his high right arm now bends again and coils behind his back, "winding the spring" and, coincidentally, keeping the ball in a spot that is completely blind to the hitter.
As his arm starts forward, it accelerates with obvious power, but our original observation remains -- the arc the ball travels to release point is much shorter than average. So he needs more physical power to do the same work.
But it's an important clarification that his elbow is not particularly bent "at the top." What is strange is that his torso turns only about 95 degrees to release point, rather than 135 degrees or more.
Pineda has an oddly loose and easy finish - he's one of those long-armed, loose guys who practically touches his left kidney with his hand as he finishes.
All of which helps to explain his "gnat-at-1,000-yard command" -- if we lesser mortals didn't have to rotate our torsos to generate power, we could keep better sight of the strike zone, and better balance etc., too.
...Maddux! That's who I was trying to think of. ::taps chin::
Maddux didn't rotate much -- just sort of slid forward on the centerline. Pineda does that, but Pineda uses even less rotation than you see Mad Dog using in the photo.
Maddux brought the ball down low on his backstroke, and hitters could see the ball over on the 1B side of his legs. Pineda holds the ball about chest-high "at the top" and it remains slightly on the 3B side of his legs. Other than that difference, you could find two dozen similarities between Pineda's and Maddux' throwing motions.
I wonder what would happen if Pineda brought the ball back lower to the ground, like Maddux. In any case, Pineda's motion looks fine to me. He is young, true, and throws awfully hard. That in itself may be the issue. Who knows how Maddux' principles would have meshed up with a 97 fastball...
Anyway, it's great work if you can get it. A 20-year-old could do worse than to filch Greg Maddux' trade secrets.