By building a bond with pitching coaches, Anthony Banda found home in Pirates' bullpen
Mar 31, 2022
Banda credits Marin and Meccage for simplifying his delivery, ending his experimental phase by concentrating on his movements on the mound so that he could become more consistent. With the use of Edgertronic high-speed cameras, they identified correctable flaws in the delivery of his breaking ball, a pitch Banda used in the minors but had lost the feel for after being injured. “They realized I was getting underneath the ball and I was trying to spin it like a saucer instead of actually getting through it. I do have a unique grip with it. It’s really hard to throw.”
Banda extends his left hand to explain the root of the problem: “I have very short, stubby fingers.” He wasn’t able to get his fingers in front of the ball to make it spin downward, and his coaches concentrated on the mechanics of his lower-body and upper-body movements. Marin took Banda to the weight room at PNC Park to show him movement patterns. “When it got very technical and they broke it down, it was very simple for me to understand,” Banda said. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is incredible.’ I stuck with it and every time out I got better and more comfortable with my mechanics, trying to fix that and trying to get back to the old me. Every time out, I was able to get closer and closer and closer. I was trusting what they brought me, what they’re seeing. I felt really, really good about it.”
Marin uses his background in analytics and biomechanics to teach pitchers to understand what works and what doesn’t. To have complete buy-in from the beginning with a well-traveled newcomer — the Pirates were Banda’s fourth team in five seasons – makes Marin emotional. “Just the fact that he trusted us and he just put it all in on the table for us to help him out,” Marin said. “He did the work. He put in the time. But to have a transformation like that, and for him to build off the transformation for himself…”
Marin interrupts that thought to share how Banda re-patterned his arm movement and used a stretch band to get more ride on his fastball and shorten up his breaking ball, signs of personal investment and growth. “He couldn’t be in a better spot right now,” Marin said. “For him to come in and say, ‘Hey, I need help. I’m open.’ For him to open the door to us and just trust us has been unbelievable.”
The results this spring are evident: Banda hasn’t allowed a run in 2 2/3 innings over three Grapefruit League games, giving up two hits and one walk with one strikeout as opponents are batting .200 against him. After starting the season with Howard as the only lefty reliever, the Pirates are counting on Banda to be a key to their bullpen. “We’re excited to see him continue doing the things he’s been doing,” Marin said. “He’s so versatile. We kept him on the shorter side last year but he’s able to go one-plus (innings). He’s able to do more things because he’s been a starter, he’s been a middle reliever, so to be in leverage situations for us last year, we couldn’t be happier for him.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at email@example.com or via Twitter . Support Local Journalism and help us continue covering the stories that matter to you and your community.