PHOENIX -- With coronavirus pushing back the start of the Major League Baseball season, the Milwaukee Brewers won't take the field any time soon, but when they do, they'll have a few tricks up their sleeve. MLB officials pushed back opening day until mid-May at the earliest on Monday, March 16 because of the new coronavirus after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for eight weeks.
The tools of pitching used to be figured out right in the bullpen.
"It's a secret," said Ray Black. "I can't say anything."
It might have been the worst-kept secret at spring training for the Crew.
"The lab is just the implement of all the new analytic tools and technology that's come out with pitching the past couple of years," said Black.
"All this is very, very new for all of us," said Chris Hook, pitching coach.
The lab can be set up inside or outside using cameras, TrackMan technology, and other technical tools to analyze the different aspects of a pitcher and his mechanics.
"Well, there's quite a bit," said Hook. "I think it just helps them sharpen their stuff."
It's mutually beneficial for the guys throwing the ball and for the staff.
"I think they have a better understanding of how their pitches work, and that's kind of where we're trying to get them, really, to know themselves really, really well," said Hook.
The feedback is immediate, which can be good, bad, or indifferent, depending on the pitcher.
"I definitely bounce ideas off them when I'm throwing pens," said Brent Suter, pitcher. "If something felt good, I'll say, 'What did that do because I think that was about right?' They'll give me the results."
"I like to just focus on my pitches, and then I'll come in the next day and check on some stuff and say, 'Hey, I like this pitch, or this one,'" said Brandon Woodruff, pitcher.
"There's some give and take to it because you can throw a 15-pitch bullpen and that could take 30 minutes if you're sitting there analyzing every pitch, so it's one of those things, having the data there available readily, you can dictate how you want to look at the information," said Corbin Burnes, pitcher.
The bottom line is, they're getting the information, and they're able to use it in a critical way moving forward.
"At the end of the day, it's about getting outs, and if something the analytics department tells me can help me get one or two more outs throughout the course of a game, then that's what matters," said Josh Lindblom, pitcher.
The same kind of technology is being used for hitters because they can better understand launch angles, speed, and other aspects of the offensive side of the game.