Tim Dillard: Milwaukee Brewers RHP

 

1. Could you tell us your story on dropping down?

I was in Big League camp with the Milwaukee Brewers in spring 2010. The consensus of the management was, “Tim you have a good arm, and you’re athletic. We think you should drop down sidearm to try and reinvent yourself.” As a relief pitcher in the Big Leagues, you have to have 2 Big League pitches. In 7 years of pro ball, I could only manage 1. That was the toughest spring of my career, but I did reinvent myself.

 

2. What are some of the advantages you have from your arm angle?

Sidearm automatically gives deception. Hitters take batting practice off a machine or from a coach, but the throws come from over the top. It’s an angle hitters do not see often. And that can give an automatic advantage.

3. If you didn't drop down, do you think you would have had the same success?

If I had never dropped down, I may have eventually found a 2nd Big League pitch throwing over the top.  But after just a couple of months into the sidearm experiment, I found the 2nd Big League pitch I couldn’t find in 7 years.  My slow curveball.  Sidearm allowed me to do things with the baseball that cannot be done throwing over the top.

 

4. What would you tell someone debating on changing their arm angle?

Anytime a pitcher changes an arm angle it can be tough and challenging.  With over the top changing to sidearm, keep in mind it changes how you pitch hitters.  It’s a different mindset.  You’re dealing with righties and lefties differently, and it can be a frustrating process.  It takes some time to feel comfortable.  Making sure the arm is in shape is key.  Trying to make an arm angle change when your arm’s not ready can cause setbacks.

 

5. Are there any mechanical tips that you'd give to someone throwing sidearm/submarine?

For me, I stand with my heal flush with the first base side of the rubber.  I do this because it allows me more plate to work with.  Many times a sidearm pitcher thinks or a coach says standing as far as you can on the rubber to intimidate hitters.  For example, a right-handed sidearm pitcher would be encouraged to stand as far toward third to make right-handed hitters even more uncomfortable.  And lefties vice versa.  This is a great strategy, but not for everyone.  The problem lies on hitting the opposite corner.  To get a quality pitch down and away becomes more difficult.  Almost cutting the plate in half.  Personally I don’t want to do that.  I want as much plate to work with as possible, which means more strikes, and less walks.

 

6. What pitches do you throw?

I throw a four-seam fastball. (I found that my sidearm four-seam fastball has more run and depth than my two-seam from the same arm slot.)
I throw a curveball that goes straight across, away from a righty.
I throw a change-up I learned in Mexico from a retired local legend who was also a sidearm righty .

 

7. How do you pitch to lefties/righties?

I approach both with aggression.  I want every pitch to be an out.  If it’s a first pitch fastball, I throw it down in the zone because I want them to hit it on the ground.  Same with curve and change.  I go for the safety zones where there’s less risk.  Down and in to a lefty could be a rollover ground ball to first, but if it runs just a few inches back over the plate it’s a smashed home-run.  Risk versus reward.  I tend to not play with fire.  Find the safe zones where you don’t have to be perfect.  Because known of us are perfect.

 

8. Lastly what is your favorite part about pitching from down there?

It’s fun. I threw over the top for years trying all sorts of pitches in all sorts of roles. A pitching coach who knew me before and after the transition told me that sidearm fit my personality. I liked that. I’m more comfortable in my mechanics and repertoire than I ever felt over the top. Sidearm’s a bit odd, kind of like me.