Much has been written about UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer and his interesting pre-game warmup routine. Not as much has been written about how Virginia lefthander Danny Hultzen prepares for a start. While he doesn't use a hacky sack or a "javelin," it is still entertaining to watch him warm up.
Hultzen begins to prepare for a start about an hour before game time. He starts off with some running to loosen up and then the fun begins. Before Hultzen starts throwing his normal bullpen session, he first goes through his delivery several times with a towel in his throwing hand. After that, he throws from his knees to a catcher in the bullpen. Hultzen's knees are angled about 45 degrees from home plate and he throws to the catcher from about 40 feet. Both drills serve the same purpose.
"They let you work on your mechanics without actually throwing the ball," Hultzen said. "Those things help you work on your stuff without putting that stress on your arm. That's why we do a lot of flat-ground work, because throwing off a mound puts that much more stress on your shoulder. Other than that, it just loosens you up and gets you ready to throw."
Hultzen's unique approach doesn't end there. On the mound, he has some unconventional mechanics—the first thing he does in his delivery is bend his knees, like he's about to sit down in an imaginary chair.
"I couldn't tell you what it does for you, but whatever it does, it's been working," Hultzen said. "So, I might as well continue to do it, however silly it looks."
He's right—you can't argue with the results. As he prepares to take the mound against California in the College World Series, Hultzen is 12-3, 1.49 on the season with 151 strikeouts and just 20 walks over 103 innings. He ranks seventh in the country in ERA and second in strikeouts. For his career, Hultzen is 32-5.
Hultzen also walks around the mound more than most pitchers. On close calls that don't go his way or when he falls behind in the count, Hultzen often takes a lap around the mound to cool off and stay composed.
"If you fall behind in the count or if it's a close call, you don't want to get the emotions of that pitch to get in your head," Hultzen said. "So, I like to just walk around the mound and slow down a little bit to just kind of forget about that last pitch and move on from it . . . There have been some rowdy fans that get tired of it pretty quickly, but it's very helpful."
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