Question on changing the arm angle


#1

I have a kid coming off Tommy John. By the way, I wasn’t coaching him when he was 13 and throwing 3 games a week. Don’t get me started.

Regardless, he has dropped his arm angle down a little bit and it’s doing amazing things to his ball. He was a low 80’s guy before and he’s sitting on that right now. He’s struggling with location though because the ball is running so much. He is getting the same run on 4 seamers and 2 seamers.

Is he pronating every pitch or turning it out?

Also he is struggling with his curveball. I don’t think he is getting on top but he tells me that he feels like he is. He used to have a nasty hammer and now he is getting frustrated because he knows it’s not as good.

I don’t feel comfortable having him throwing a slider or cutter because of the stress. I’m overly protective of him right now.

I guess I’m not really asking a question here, but does anyone have some good advice for me? Thanks ahead of time.


#2

You didn’t say how much he has dropped down, but if he is a side-armer now he won’t be able to throw a 12-to-6 hammer type of a curve.

A side-armer releasing the ball with curve mechanics will get side-to-side rotation on the ball and the break will be much more lateral than vertical.

Side-armers, or low 3/4, can throw terrific sliders–Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez come to mind–but terrific vertical-breaking curveballs mostly come from guys who throw “over the top”.

I don’t think that “extra stress” for slider pitchers who have sound mechanics has been proven in an ASMI study, or even supported with a good theory, but I know that discussion is one that some guys will not touch with a ten-foot pole.

As just one example, Randy Johnson has been a fastball/slider pitcher for most of his long career, although he has also got a split-finger FB now. Still, with the velocity he gets on his slider you’d think he might be the poster boy for “slider-related stress” but he’s done okay over a long career.


#3

Way to go, flippin!
The slider, when thrown correctly, is actually easier on the arm and shoulder than just about any other pitch, and it certainly is easier on them than the curve ball. I remember when I learned how to throw it—I was told “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it”, and I spent about eight minutes thoroughly familiarizing myself with the easier wrist action, while Ed Lopat watched me and made some mental notes about my delivery, my release point, etc. What he was doing was formulating a jumping-off point from which he could work further with me on this and other matters relating to pitching.
I got the hang of the pitch in no time at all, and I worked extensively with it over the winter (1951-52) to make sure I had it down cold because this was going to be my strikeout pitch. And Mr. Lopat was an incredible pitching coach. He saw the things I was doing—I was a natural sidearmer who used a slide-step—and he worked with me to help me make the most of this, in addition to adding to my arsenal of breaking stuff to set batters up for that slider.
So if our reader here is having trouble with his curve ball as a result of his being a sidearm or low 3/4 pitcher, he should lose that curve and concentrate on developing a killer slider. 8)