In 2012 Edinson Volquez was pitching for the San Diego Padres, threw 182 2/3 innings and had an ERA of 4.14. In 2013 Edinson was still pitching for the Padres, threw 142 1/3 innings and had an ERA of 6.01.
Later in 2013 he spent some time with the Dodgers, but in 2014 he was throwing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That year Edinson pitched 192 2/3 innings and had an ERA of 3.04.
So what changed?
According to Edinson, the Padres emphasized pitching to the outside part of the plate; establish the down and away fastball and go from there. But if you keep pitching hitters away, away, away, the smart ones get on top of the plate. Bellying up to the dish makes the outside corner of the plate the middle of their hitting zone and the pitcher is in trouble — that pitch on the outside corner becomes very hittable.
In Pittsburgh they wanted Volquez to pitch inside; back hitters off the plate, then go away.
But a lot of pitchers do not like to pitch inside; as amateurs, a lot of them probably pitched to hitters using metal bats, so pitching inside could backfire — you could jam a hitter and he could still hit a baseball a long way.
And if you miss location when pitching inside, the hitter can pull the ball down the line; a fly ball hit to the shortest part of the park can turn into a home run in a heartbeat.
On top of all that, there’s the chance that pitching inside might anger the hitter. Make the wrong hitter mad and he just might come out to the mound for a visit.
So with all those reasons not to pitch inside, some pitchers are reluctant to do it. In fact the only good reason to pitch inside is if you don’t, you might not be pitching anywhere at all. If you want to stay in the big leagues you have to pitch inside and keep the hitters honest.
When Edinson Volquez has his next start — and unless something weird happens that should be Sunday against the Astros — watch for him to establish the inside pitch. Once he backs the hitter off the plate, watch for Edinson to pitch away — that inside pitch opens up the outside corner.
If Edinson doesn’t pitch inside, don’t be surprised if the Astros hitters smoke some pretty good pitches on the outside part of the plate.
And that’s “inside” information.