How paranoid are teams about pitch tipping? After Dodgers lefthander Julio Urías gave up four home runs to the Cardinals in the third inning May 18, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts—while being interviewed the next inning on MLB Network—immediately speculated Urías might have been tipping his pitches.
After reviewing the video later, the Dodgers were satisfied that Urías was not tipping his pitches. (He would later go on the IL with a hamstring strain.) That Roberts arrived so quickly at the pitch-tipping theory tells you how prevalent that worry is in baseball these days. It is the first cause of concern when pitchers get hit—and for good reason.
Pitch tipping is happening more often because of the growth of multicamera video systems in ballparks that run machine learning algorithms. The practice of finding “tells” is so prevalent it has changed pitching mechanics. To avoid those unwanted “tells” that tip a hitter which pitch is coming, more pitchers are working exclusively from a set position (no windup) and keep their hands tight against their bodies while gripping the baseball with as little movement as possible. They are hiding the baseball not just from the hitter, but also from eight cameras scattered around the ballpark trained on the mound.
Pitching coaches are continually self-scouting their own pitchers to guard against tells. One pitching coach says combating tells that can be picked up by opponents through technology consumes more of his time than actual game-planning.
The paranoia is well placed. Several pitchers this year changed their delivery out of fear that opposing teams found a tell in their prepitch setup. Here are just a few examples:
José Suarez, Angels
After (Hands higher, closer to body)
Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles
After (Hands lower, closer to body)
Michael Kopech, White Sox
After (Set position higher with more upright glove)
Andre Jackson, Dodgers
After (Shoulder turn to hide baseball from hitter)