During yesterday’s broadcast, Len Kasper shared that apparently MLB determined that Carl Edwards Jr.’s new hesitation delivery is illegal after the Rangers pitched a fit about it.
But the thing is, we know the delivery in general is not illegal, since he patterned it off of Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, who do the move all the time without issue.
What I think actually happened is that when Edwards deployed the delivery against the Rangers (he only got to do it on two pitches, because he can’t do it with runners on base), he really exaggerated the hesitation for some reason. Indeed, it was a full-on stop with his foot, stepping on the ground. This is absolutely not what he was doing in the Spring:
Here's a look at the Carl Edwards Jr. hesitation delivery from Saturday, which features an (illegal) full-on stop, plant, and then deliver. It has to be a little more smooth than this, as he was properly doing in the Spring. pic.twitter.com/ECDZ6Ce85k
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 1, 2019
I have always thought, going back to the Carter Capps fights, that you couldn’t do that kind of re-plant, and I’m pretty sure I’m right. Here’s the rule clarification from MLB, emphasis mine:
“An addition to Rule 5.07 stipulates that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, such an action will be called a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).”
So, when you watch Kershaw and Jansen, they don’t full-on stop and step – they just kind of glide down as part of one motion:
That’s what Edwards *was* doing when he first started showing the delivery at the outset of Spring Training. I *think* the foot can even tap the ground as part of the motion (sometimes Jansen does, I believe), but you can’t do a full-on foot-plant, because then you’re essentially taking a “second step toward home plate with either foot.”
Why Edwards did that so differently in the Rangers game than he had been in the Spring, I don’t know. Maybe he got into his own head or something in the debut, and that threw things off? A little extra nervous? Balance wasn’t quite there? Can’t say for sure.
Long story short: if he does the hesitation the right way, it’s not illegal. But now it’s going to be in his head, so that kinda sucks.
The Cubs tend to want Edwards to keep doing it, though. From his pitching coach, Tommy Hottovy (Cubs.com): “The easiest thing to do is to scrap it, go right back to what you’ve done your whole life. [But] now you’re right back to where you started. We’ve said that with guys who have worked on new pitches, new grips, all that stuff – it’s about the process.”
In theory, the move is designed to help Edwards square up his delivery a bit to improve command. He had a virtually flawless Spring Training, so it was clearly working for him, physically. It was fine for him this weekend, too, when he was actually able to use it. The problem is, once a runner gets on base, he has to go back to a normal stretch delivery.
In any case, I hope Edwards can get back to what he was doing in the Spring, and then it somehow also helps him stay on target even runners on base, even though he can’t do the full windup.