This is kind of a postmortem on Neil Allen but this is a portion of an interview I had with him in spring training. The article was never finished because I wasn't granted access to Falvey during that time to talk overall pitching philosophy, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, if you are interested in some of Allen's thoughts from this past March, here they are:
Your guys were able to get to 2-strikes a lot last year but were unable to turn those into strikeouts. How do you get guys to get that third strike in those situations?
What you gotta do is you gotta be able to work the four quadrants of the plate with your fastball. You gotta be able to go up-and-in, down-and-away, up-and-in, down-and-away. You gotta make hitters uncomfortable. We didn’t pitch inside to both sides of the plate effectively the way we should have last year. We got ahead, we didn’t finish. But then again we didn’t send that message during that AB to get guys uncomfortable. So therefore guys went into swing mode than we would have liked them to be and that’s the reason the results the way it was.
How do you instill that in pitchers coming up through the system?
At the lower levels, you should be able to throw your four-seam fastball to both sides of the plate. That’s the focus, that’s where you should be. When you get to High-A ball you’re starting to find yourself a breaking ball, whether it be slider, curveball, whatever it may be. You start mastering your changeup so when you get to Double-A level -- which I call that the men’s league because that’s the turning point in the minor leagues, and you got better hitters and guys been playing for two or three years -- that’s when you start putting it all together a little bit. Now we see what kind of breaking ball we got, we see how we elevate, how we get people off the plate. You got to keep people honest, you can’t let them hang over the plate. You’ve got to pitch inside, you’ve got to elevate and change eye levels, so when you go back into the zone, they are going to think about it. If you are capable of having a good fastball plan to get strike one, you can double up in the twice knowing you can come back throwing your pitches for strikes.
You have a lot of guys coming into camp with new routines, like Ryan O’Rourke and the weighted balls, and new mechanics, like Kyle Gibson, how do you as a pitching coach work with that?
First of all, you let them be themselves the first couple of weeks, in BP sessions, the first few games, and you watch them. Let them build off the confidence that they are feeling with their new mechanics, new arm slots, whatever it may be. And let’s see how we work out. Don’t take that away, don’t criticize it, don’t critique it until let them go out and get some results on their own. Then you start talking about it. Just to come out and say I don’t like that or I don’t like this, that’s wrong. Let them show you what they’ve been working on then feed off of it later on in camp. We’re getting to the point now we’ve got the potential to say, it’s been two or three weeks now, where you start seeing what a guy is capable of doing and then you try to give him some advice or pointers that you think might benefit him, but don’t take away his hopes and dreams of everything he’s been working on all winter. Let’s see the results first before we start critiquing.
What do you have to do this year to be better as a staff?
We’ve got to pitch inside. We’ve got to pitch inside to both plates and be effective to both sides of the plate because the staff, like you just said, we can throw strikes. We did an OK job of getting ahead but we got to improve on that even. But once we get ahead we got to establish the innerhalf of the plate and get people off the ball.