Analyzing Brandon Erbe's Delivery

Brandon Erbe pitching for the Frederick Keys

Scouts have mixed opinions about Brandon Erbe's delivery. Some think he will be able to handle a starter's workload, while others believe he is destined for the bullpen, or worse, an injury. ITW uses video of Erbe's delivery to break down his mechanics and explain the controversy.

In this video, you can see Brandon Erbe working from the stretch. He works with a high three-quarters delivery, which isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing. According to famed Pitching Coach (and former major leaguer) Tom House, the arm path is genetic. Forcing yourself to go over the top or drop to a lower slot is unnatural and that is where pitchers get into trouble. The most important thing is that Erbe maintains equal and opposite elbows, though he does drop his non-throwing elbow at the end of his delivery.

You can also see that Erbe throws across his body a bit. Although it is an old adage that this puts stress on the pitcher's elbow, more recent motion analysis indicates that it is fine as long as you don't stride across your body more than the width of your hips and maintain complete balance.

Finally, watch how Erbe lands and pulls his body towards his glove hand as he delivers the pitch. According to House, this means that the release point is closer to home plate, there is less time for the batter to see the ball, it's easier to throw strikes, and better (and later) movement on pitches.

In the second video, you can clearly see that Erbe maintains equal and opposite elbows. You can also see the most unique part of his delivery- his long stride to the plate, complete with a hitch in which he points his toe towards the plate. Although it looks awkward at full speed, Erbe maintains his balance and, in fact, seems to gain extra torque from his long stride.

Brandon Erbe does not have the most conventional delivery, but past concerns about it seem to be exaggerated. Considering that he had no problems over a full season in 2006, Erbe has as good of a chance to escape the injury nexus (through age 23) unscathed as any teenage pitcher. As he matures and adds weight to his thin frame, many of the remaining concerns over his durability should subside as well.

Here's one more video, which is another look at Erbe's unique stride to the plate.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com

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