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The Houston Astros’ pitcher Luis Garcia has become a fan favorite for his unique pitching motion. His signature windup of rocking his arms back and forth before taking one step forward and one step backward is something that has been celebrated on t-shirts and along the parade route. But now, with the new pitch timer rules, Garcia’s windup will have to change.

This blog post will provide a summary of the research on the new rules and how they will affect Garcia’s pitching motion. We will also discuss what the Astros’ pitching coach Josh Miller has to say about the change and what Garcia’s new windup will look like. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the new pitch timer rules and how they will affect Garcia’s pitching motion, read on!

Major League Baseball informed the Astros in December that Garcia’s signature windup would no longer be legal under the new pitch timer rules. The rule states a pitcher must have a clear point to begin his delivery in order to stop the pitch timer, and Garcia’s multiple steps and arm motions don’t provide that. The rule says the pitcher is permitted to take one step back (or laterally) and one step forward. Thus, taking multiple steps before lifting the free leg is now deemed an illegal pitch movement.

Houston pitching coach Josh Miller said they had to inform Garcia that his signature windup might not be allowed and to practice something more traditional. Garcia’s pitching motion is one of the most recognizable in baseball and has been celebrated on T-shirts in Houston. He started throwing that way years ago while trying to find a delivery that was repeatable.

Now, Miller said, his windup will look different this spring. Garcia, an international free agent from Venezuela, jumped from Class A to the big leagues during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and hasn’t looked back. In 63 career regular-season games (57 starts), he’s gone 26-17 with a 3.57 ERA and is entrenched in Houston’s deep starting rotation.

Last year, Garcia went 15-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 28 regular-season starts but was limited to 5 2/3 relief innings in the postseason because the Astros had so much pitching depth along with numerous days off. Miller said that the uniqueness of his delivery has played to some of his success and that any time you do a major change with something, you’ve got to expect some growing pains.

Garcia started doing something last year where he would alter the timing of his leg lift, and it would disrupt the timing of the hitter. Miller rode with Garcia atop a truck during the Astros’ World Series championship parade in November and said fans who recognized Garcia repeatedly mimicked his pitching motion while standing along the parade route. And starting this year, fans will be the only ones at Minute Maid Park allowed to rock the baby.

It’s a shame that Garcia’s signature windup will no longer be allowed, but Miller is confident he will adapt to the new rules and do fine without it. If you’re curious to see how Garcia’s pitching motion will change with the new pitch timer rules, stay tuned!