After one of the worst outings of his career, followed by a short outing against the Chicago White Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays had seen enough. It was time to help their prized trade deadline acquisition make a much-needed change.
Following a six earned run performance against the Angels and a four earned run performance against the White Sox, Jose Berrios and the Blue Jays came up with a game plan. Part of that adjustment involved simplifying the right-hander’s windup.
Berrios debuted a simplified delivery against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon and parlayed his performance into 11 strikeout affair against one of his former AL Central division rivals.
He set a new career high for strikeouts in a game with 11, thanks in part to 24 called strikes and 12 swings and misses on his pitches.
Instead of rocking his hands behind his head, a la Roy Halladay or Charlie Morton, Berrios unveiled a slimmed-down delivery, lifting his hands from his belt to his head, and coming through with his windup.
A look at Jose Berrios' new simplified windup. No more "coming upstairs" as he calls it; just raises his hands to his head, drops down, and fires to home plate. pic.twitter.com/3Drr0l29Q3
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) August 30, 2021
The early returns from this change were promising, as he struck out 11 Tigers batters. This coming off an outing where the White Sox were all over Berrios, connecting for nine hits over three innings of work.
Berrios’ pre-pitch setup mimics how he looks pitching from the stretch, eliminating the over-the-head routine. He told reporters post-game that this new delivery should help keep his release point more consistent.
“Coming to the upstairs and then keep moving forward, sometimes I don’t feel myself and I sometimes miss my release point,” Berrios said. “Being simple, just my belt and coming a little bit up, I feel more like myself and I try to stay in line to home plate.”
The former first-round pick of the Twins said he developed the over-the-head windup sometime between his rookie campaign in 2016 with the Twins and his sophomore campaign in 2017. This latest change marked the first major adjustment in his windup since the 2017 season.
The 27-year-old isn’t the only Blue Jays starting pitcher to go through mechanical adjustments in-season. Ross Stripling also underwent a slight delivery change earlier in the year, and oddly enough, Berrios’ setup mimics what Stripling used previously.
Ross Stripling made some adjustments to his pre-pitch delivery. The before and after of each pitch type: pic.twitter.com/YwSLpqCjdJ
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) June 4, 2021
Stripling used to raise his hands from his belt to his head, then drop down into his delivery. But with the aide of Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker, they simplified his delivery and Stripling kept his hands close to his waist to help limit the variables in his pre-pitch windup.
Prior to his adjustment, Stripling posted a 6.53 ERA with the Blue Jays, surrendering 29 earned runs over 40 innings since joining his new team last summer. Since that adjustment and a fateful six earned run performance against the Red Sox, Stripling posted a 3.29 ERA in 13 starts since that alteration.
It’s only been one game for Berrios and his new-look delivery, and it was against the sub-500 Detroit Tigers. However, the early returns are very promising for the Blue Jays’ major trade deadline acquisition, someone who will play a huge role in their starting pitching plans next season.