Ben Moore: RHP former AA Yankees, Taiwan, Austrlia

 

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

I started throwing sidearm in the bullpen before my first start for Winnipeg against Fargo in 2006.  I had been released from the Yankees the year before and played with Calgary and Joliet in the Northern League with pretty average success.  I got released from Joliet just after the 2006 season began and was lucky to sign with Winnipeg.  I never threw completely over the top but i was a high-3/4 guy my whole life.  I had always thrown across my body and it was hard for me as a right-hander to consistently hit the outside corner to a righty, something that is a necessity in professional baseball.  I threw one pitch from a low 3/4 arm slot and it just clicked, all of a sudden i was able to hit that outside corner in the bullpen literally every time.  My pitching coach was Steve Shirley and he said that he didn't care, do whatever i wanted.  I found out later that i was scheduled to be released again the next day as they had someone flying in to take my spot.  I threw 7 shutout innings that day agains Fargo, who were one of the toughest teams in the league and Winnipeg let me hang around the rest of the season.  I ended up with a 2.50 ERA with Winnipeg that year and my career had been rejuvenated.

 

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

A couple of the advantages to throwing from my arm slot are the fact that i can hit the outside corner like i mentioned before but my fastball also runs 4-6 inches arm side.  I throw all 4-seamers so i don't get much depth but when i throw away to a righty it is almost impossible to hit as the ball doesn't ever really cross the plate.  Also my changeup turned into a strikeout pitch as i am able to put nearly 12-6 spin on it...it looks to the hitter like a lefty throwing a good curveball.  Also my curveball now moves 3-9 oclock and drops a bit at the end (gravity is awesome).  It's not that my stuff is devastating, it seems to be just the fact that it is such a different look to the hitter and i've had the good fortune to stay healthy long enough to learn where to throw the stuff and more importantly, when.

 

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

 I don't believe I would have had the same success if i didn't drop my arm angle down.  Now, this choice was a combination of trying to stay healthy and trying to get hitters out more effectively, but it ended up fulfilling both of those requirements better than I could have imagined.  In 2006 I began a run of 7 straight years playing year-round and averaging just over 240 innings per year.  The strain on my arm and body were lessened, and hitters weren't able to get a read on me as easily, even though I remained a starting pitcher having to go through each lineup 3+ times a start.  

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

  Each pitcher is different obviously, and if you are dominating your competition throwing over the top with fastballs, then don't change a thing! However, your peers will let you know when it is time to make a change.  If you are a starting pitcher and it takes you 75 pitches to make it through the 3rd inning or if you are being used as a long reliever pitching once a week, maybe that time has come.  In a perfect world I would have loved to have stayed with the mechanics i grew up with and had a 20 year MLB career throwing 95mph past guys.  My body and ability level didn't let me do that and I found that out early in my professional career.  I was willing to make a huge change and take that leap of faith to try something new and drastic and it really worked out for me.

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

The number one tip I have for people who throw sidearm is to stay on top of the ball still.  It is easy to stay behind and on top when you throw like a pitching machine.  It is much harder to do that when you throw sidearm.  Why is it important to stay on top?  Velocity and Movement.  Throwing sidearm you get the added benefit of arm-side run automatically, but if you can stay on top of the ball through the finish, you also get sink, even with a 4-seam FB, which makes it much harder for hitters to square you up.  Two planes of movement is always better than one.  The other mechanical thing that i believe is very important is your arm path.  I see a lot of players who throw sidearm actually swing their arm up towards their glove side shoulder after they release the ball.  That is not how our bodies are designed to work.  I believe you should still end up with your hand down by your glove side hip or even knee to take stress off your arm.

 

6. What pitches do you throw?

I throw 4-seam and 2-seam FB's as well as a curveball and a changeup.  I like to attack right-handed batters with 4-seam FB's and CB's away and CH's inside.  With the added run i get by throwing sidearm a well located FB away never actually enters the strike zone but will still hit the catcher's mitt on the outside corner and umpires always call that a strike.  Throwing inside i prefer a 2-seam FB because as we all know, umpires don't like to call that pitch a strike so I'm looking for weak contact there, not a strikeout.  This is all pretty basic knowledge i believe, but the thing that I have found to separate me from some other pitchers is the ability to throw my CH inside against righties.  As I said before, since I stay on top of the ball i get two planes of movement and with the changeup that is amplified.  If i start the changeup middle in and belt high to a righty it looks like a great pitch to hit, but by the time it is done moving it is out of the strike zone both inside and low.  Hard not to swing at and also hard to hit, a good combination for us pitchers.  

7. How do you pitch to lefties/righties?

Lefties are a bit different as I like to go inside on them more than righties, especially if they have faced me ten or more times throughout the season.  The more I get them to chase the changeup down and away, the more they are leaning over trying to take that pitch away from me.  That is a good time to throw a 4-seam FB inside and even double up on that.  To me there is a difference between throwing inside and pitching inside.  If I show them that I am truly willing and able to throw inside on them then that opens the outside corner back up for me and that is where we all want to be able to attack.

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

I guess my favorite part about throwing sidearm is that it is directly responsible for me continuing my pitching career.  Without choosing this path I would have been done with my professional career in 2005.  It is now 2014 and I am still playing the game I love and have gotten to play on 4 continents and met many wonderful people.