McClendon causes stir with quick pitch

McClendon causes stir with quick pitch

MILWAUKEE -- As manager Ken Macha sees it, what Brewers reliever Mike McClendon does with two strikes absolutely is not an illegal quick pitch. The four Reds batters McClendon struck out on Tuesday night would likely disagree.

After he struck out third baseman Scott Rolen to end the seventh, home-plate umpire Dan Bellino told Macha he thought it was a quick pitch, though he didn't make the call.

"He said the hitter wasn't looking," Macha said. "Go back and look at the tape, the hitter was looking. But sometimes what happens is the umpire gets caught off guard."

In the eighth, McClendon continued to work with a shorter, quicker delivery after two strikes, and he struck out the side doing so.

The last of McClendon's four strikeout victims was catcher Ramon Hernandez, who was noticeably upset afterward, pleading his case with Bellino.

"I don't think in McClendon's situation that it should even be in the conversation," Macha said. "He takes a step back, he does his drop step, and then after he gets to his balance point, either he's slow or he goes fast. There should not even be a question for that."

McClendon's manner of pitching in such situations is acceptable, so long as no runners are on base. With the bases empty, the requirement of coming set before pitching is not in play.

As far as Macha is concerned, pitching quickly is no different than switching up between a fastball and an offspeed pitch. It's all designed to do the same thing to the hitter.

"The idea of pitching is to disrupt the hitter's timing," Macha said. "You do that by throwing changeups and fastballs and all that stuff. This is just a little variation of it, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it."

Another National League Central pitcher, Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, pitches with a similar style to McClendon's. When facing him, Brewers hitters made a concerted effort to call timeout to prevent any potential quick pitch.

So who's at fault in the quick pitch issue?

"Is it on the hitter? He's in the box," Macha said. "If he knows the pitcher is going to do that, it's up to him to call time."