Jeff Williams: Former LHP LA Dodgers, Japan, 2004 Australian Olympic Team

 

http://web.theabl.com.au/media/video.jsp?content_id=36766749

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

 I started dropping down at the end of the 2001 season...
I had been having problems with my ulna nerve for both 2000 and 2001 in that I would lose strength in my hand and fingers while pitching which would affect my control greatly....I even had surgery on my wrist in the off season between 2000/2001 to see if that is where the nerve was being affected....it wasn't...
There was no pain associated with it, except the pain of not being able to control the ball and putting up some pretty shitty numbers in MLB....
In september 2001, I was messing around during our pre-game practices throwing sidearm when our pitching coach Jim Colborn noticed and liked what he saw....he immediately said "let's go to the bullpen and try that off the mound!".....he liked it even more then and within 10 days I took it to the mound for a game against the Padres in petco at the end of the season...I walked a guy and struck out a guy to end the game...the Dodgers were convinced that this was my road to success but I was not on board yet...
In spring training 2002, the Dodgers wanted me to only pitch sidearm but I still thought I could throw overhand as a starter....
I didn't make the team out of camp and by the end of spring training they had convinced me to give it a try at AAA...
I had mixed results for the first month but it felt pretty natural and definitely took the pressure off my nerve so I didn't suffer with any more hand strength issues....
I took over the closing role a month later in AAA and knew that I would never pitch overhand again...I was 25 for 25 in save opportunities winning the rolaids reliever of the year award for AAA...
It may have been a case of better late than never because I was out of options with the Dodgers so in the offseason of 2002 my contract was sold to the Hanshin Tigers of the NPB and I pitched 7 more years with them...all sidearm....

 

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

Exactly that - angle! I was coming from a release point that hitters weren't used to or comfortable with and that kind of advantage before you even throw the ball makes all the difference...the best part was that I didn't lose any velocity from that slot....the next advantage for me was the effect it had on my breaking ball....it was easier for me to spin it from the side and I didn't have to worry about bouncing it....it had a better chance of committing a hitter to swing because is stayed in the zone longer laterally....not sure that makes sense? but that was my feeling...

 

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

NO...Before doing it, I thought I would be a successful MLB pitcher but I never felt as dominant or confident until I dropped down...

 

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

 That's tough...everyone is different...I can't say that it is for everyone...If it feels natural, you have a much better chance of success because you won't fight it under duress....Get as much advice as you can...and get feedback from hitters if you can....I knew I was onto something when hitters were uncomfortable during live BP sessions and didn't want to step in there....especially lefthand hitters...

 

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

Don't try to change too much...basic mechanic fundamentals remain the same....All I tried to do was bend at the waist and make a natural delivery....balance is still key to repeatability..

 

6. What pitches did you throw?

2seam and 4seam fastball and slider....

 

7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

I tried to tie lefties up inside with the 2seamer and sliders in any location but middle was effective...
I mostly pitched righties down away with 2seamers and tried to bury sliders inside off the plate....but I always pitched power hitters inside...always....

 

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

Watching guys shake their head after missing a slider by a couple feet....or....
This only happened a handful of times but making a righty take a full swing and miss on a slider that hits him in the gut...