Courtesy of Yale Athletics

While the Ivy League baseball season has been canceled two years in a row, southpaw pitcher Rohan Handa ’22 has been busy working with Tread Athletics, a pitching development company, to come back strong for his senior season with the Bulldogs.

Handa was off to a hot start in the 2020 baseball season before the COVID-19 pandemic sent everyone home. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native made four appearances in 10 games for the Bulldogs, accumulating five innings of dominant work with an impressive 1.80 ERA. The 2021 season was Handa’s opportunity to show improvements from a lackluster first-year campaign and show his development as a cornerstone of the Bulldog bullpen. 

Trying to make the best of his situation, Handa has been working to improve his stuff ahead of the next baseball season. Whether it is coaching his old high school’s junior varsity team, taking four classes, working with Dynamic Sports Training in Houston last semester or pursuing his current work with Tread Athletics, Handa is diligently preparing for the next time when Yale baseball head coach John Stuper calls his number.

“Although I haven’t been able to see it in person, watching Rohan’s progress via videos and FaceTime calls has been one of the more exciting parts of this ‘offseason,’” catcher Jamis DeKay ’24 said. “To see someone who I respect, on and off the field, make such strides is what makes me excited to put on the Yale uniform again next year.”

On March 15, Ben Brewster, head of Tread Athletics, shared a video on Twitter that showed Handa in some live at-bats. The tweet highlighted the increase in velocity that Handa has worked hard to achieve — from sitting in the mid-80s with his fastball last year to the mid-90s today. According to its website, Tread Athletics “builds custom training and throwing plans” for its pitchers.

Handa throwing some live at-bats outdoors. Video: Courtesy of Rohan Handa.

Besides improving his velocity, Handa has also added a new pitch to his arsenal: a splitter. In high school, Handa was “scared” of throwing this pitch because he was never able to spread his fingers wide enough to throw the pitch consistently. Handa now tries to throw his splitter as much as a knuckleball as possible but at around 82 miles per hour. When looking at his splitter data on the TrackMan, a camera that captures baseball data, Handa said that he tries to minimize his spin on the pitch to create the erratic movement that tends to make hitters swing and miss when facing a good knuckleball.

Handa said that he was not worried about potential injury with his new pitch.

“I’m doing my all to make my forearm around the UCL area mobilize as much as I can,” Handa explained in a phone call with the News. “You want to mobilize that area as much as you can and if you’re doing that you should have no problem. I’ve thrown the splitter for about a month and a half now, no sort of elbow pain whatsoever, but that’s just because I have a routine.”

Handa developed this routine in conjunction with working with Brewster and his team at Tread Athletics. Brewster, a former college baseball player himself, started Tread in 2015 to help other pitchers. Unlike other facilities that focus on just one area of athletic development like strength or nutrition, Tread takes pride in providing its clients with holistic in-house solutions to all aspects of their development.

With Handa, Brewster and the team at Tread designed a personalized training regimen that focused on his mobility, nutrition and mechanics to improve his pitching. The training, which Handa started remotely in April 2020, has already paid off, as Handa has added 10 miles per hour to his fastball and has shown improvements in other metrics on his pitches.

 

Handa pitching some indoor live at bats. Video: Courtesy of Rohan Handa

“We are stress managers,” Brewster said. “The athlete’s job is to show up and put everything they have into the prescribed program, but their job is not necessarily to regulate their stress. Our job is to figure out how much stress is too much, keep them away from that, [and] how much stress is too little, where they are not going to get better and being properly prepared with the right workload.”

Besides his new splitter, Handa throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup.

Eugenio Garza García | eugenio.garzagarcia@yale.edu