Dan Straily needed to see a doctor. He wasn’t running a fever or suffering from strep throat; he had a bum shoulder. The symptoms of his malady were decreased velocity and general ineffectiveness. He initiated some independent research, and upon the recommendation of Houston Astros pitching coach Brent Strom and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, Straily, 27, picked his practitioner.
After sitting in the waiting room that is Triple-A for much of the 2015 season, Straily paid a visit to Driveline Baseball in Seattle, where he met with Kyle Boddy. Boddy — the subject of a recent post here by Eno Sarris — isn’t an M.D., but you can think of him like a pitching doctor. Straily showed up, rattled off his ailments, and named his desired health benchmarks.
Straily told Boddy he needed to get his fastball back to sitting at 92 mph, with the ability to touch 94. That’s where he was when he first came up as an exciting, 23-year-old pitching prospect with Oakland back in 2012. Lately, his fastball had been sitting 89, and he struggled to touch 92 at all, and his effectiveness plummeted. The reason was the shoulder; he needed to get that healthy. And his breaking ball, he told Boddy, needed sharpening up.
Straily’s average fastball velocity by year
Boddy listened to his patient, and ran the preliminary examinations. That meant a trip to the biomechanics lab to analyze Straily’s delivery, and some tests to measure the movement and spin rate on his pitches. The doc came back with good news.
“I brought everything back and I said, ‘You know, your breaking ball is actually fine. I think that problem will go away if you throw 94 and sit 92,’” Boddy said. “And [Straily] said, ‘Alright, perfect.’ So we were on the same page from the get-go.”
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