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Bullpen Mechanics
— A Scout's View

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bringin’ Some Sidearm Cheese—Pat Neshek

As many of you may know, I have a special place in my heart for sidearmers and submariners.

Here’s one of my favorite sidearmers, Pat Neshek, of the Minnesota Twins. Unusual in many ways, especially because he’s one of the few sidearmers that can bring it…. I mean REALLY bring it.

For those of you who have never seen Neshek’s delivery, you’re in for a treat.

I could watch this clip over and over and over and it would still amaze me.
How do you come up with a delivery like this?


He doesn’t exactly follow the “book” on what you’re supposed to do mechanically. No kidding.

1) He doesn’t keep his posture well. Notice how his torso is up, then he bends down like he’s going WAY low, and then pops back up and delivers completely sidearm.

2) Doesn’t exactly close his hips up does he? No leg kick either.

3) His elbow ends up a little lower than his shoulder. Also note the unusual finish. I cut out the final few frames (I shouldn’t have), but when you see him pitch next time, notice the Shooter McGavin finger point at the end of his delivery. It’s hilarious and intimidating at the same time.

How does he throw so hard?

There’s a few things that he does REALLY well.

1) He maintains a quick tempo. Once he gets going forward, he really picks up speed on the way to release.

2) Here’s where I think the real magic happens. Prepare to be amazed by this next clip…..

Call it scap loading, call it hyperflexing, call it whatever you want. I’d like the moderator of this website and former college teammate of Neshek’s, Jeff Albert (aka Marcus Giles 2) to comment on Neshek’s range of motion. I froze the video on frame 5 to illustrate this point where it seems his elbows are about to touch behind his back. WOW, just WOW.

The horizontal loading of the arm (the scap load) is a major component of Neshek’s exceptional arm speed.

3) The other thing he does surprisingly well is that he firms up his front side on his way to release. Some more video….

As a general rule, sidearmers tend to open up (their front shoulder) a little sooner than conventional pitchers. I highlighted frame 3 on the above clip because that’s when Neshek seems to start firming up his front side so that he doesn’t “spin out.” As a matter of fact, his glove and elbow move into his body on the few frames before release. IIRC, Tom House used to call that “narrowing the cone of projection.”

Neshek firms up his glove, and then really brings his torso into his glove instead of yanking his glove into his hip. Excellent, especially for a sidearmer.


What about injury issues? I just don’t know. If injury issues are difficult to predict on conventional pitchers, then it is even more difficult to predict unorthodox pitchers. However, I think that Neshek will remain durable for some time. Although quite different, he does some things that tell me that he’ll remain durable and effective. However, even if I’m wrong about his durability, aren’t pitchers like this just fun to watch? It is then our duty as baseball fans to enjoy watching them while they last.

Of course, questions/comments/job offers are always appreciated. Also, if anyone can find a still pic of Shooter Neshek that would be great.

ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 10, 2007 at 04:23 AM | 27 comment(s)
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   1. myst333 Posted: April 10, 2007 at 08:49 AM (#2330913)
Thanks for the great breakdown. I have always liked pitchers that try things a bit diffrent. I think there is something to be said for taking the hitters out of their comfort zone. One of the cases that springs to mind is Sid Fernandez and his crazy low BABIP.
   2. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 10, 2007 at 12:24 PM (#2330938)
You're welcome. This one was a spur of the moment type of thing. This was was pretty easy to write as he's a fun guy to watch.
I always wondered how Sid continually threw 85mph 4-seamers by hitters with ease. He'd certainly be an interesting case.
   3. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:06 PM (#2331012)
It seems like his legs and azs are furnishing a whole lot of the power, and he doesn't seem to have big legs/azs.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:14 PM (#2331017)
It seems like his legs and azs are furnishing a whole lot of the power, and he doesn't seem to have big legs/azs.
Really? It looks to me like Neshek's got a booty that don't stop. His power doesn't seem to come exactly from a full lower-body drive, but more from the speed with which he rotates his hips once his tempo picks up. In the general buttocksian region, Neshek's got mass.

The thing he does with his elbows is crazy. This remains the most consistently entertaining and informative baseball blog I know. Thanks CBW.
   5. Daryn Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:24 PM (#2331028)
How do you come up with a delivery like this?

He explains on his website that he he used to be a hitter/fielder and then he hurt his arm and couldn't throw overhand anymore. He goes into some detail about his mechanics as he sees it. He says that he has never seen anyone throw like he does.

He's my favourite player.
   6. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:29 PM (#2331031)
but more from the speed with which he rotates his hips once his tempo picks up.

Well said. I didn't go into hip rotation and separation much in this article, but it is certainly a factor.

Thanks for the props..
   7. Marcus Giles 2 Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:30 PM (#2331033)
check out his website, lots of pictures and a link on the left sidebar that explains how he ended up with this delivery (happened basically by accident). usually the ball is by you before you figure out what the heck is happening

and yes, I have seen him touch his elbows together behind his back

great guy and awesome competitor
   8. Marcus Giles 2 Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:32 PM (#2331035)
also check out #6 here:
   9. Sooze Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:48 PM (#2331046)
Awesome evaluation! Neshek is a joy to watch. If you haven't already checked this out, Bat Girl does a pretty good recreation of his delivery as well here.
   10. Willie Mays Hayes Posted: April 10, 2007 at 02:51 PM (#2331048)
CBW - Your work is some of the best on here. Keep it up!
   11. joker24 Posted: April 10, 2007 at 03:49 PM (#2331085)
It may just be an awkward frame, but it really looks like he puts a ton of stress on his shoulder in the last frame of the hyperflexing clip. He's practically turned 3/4 the way to the plate with his torso and his arm is still perpendicular to the plate...but if nothing else, that's some ridiculous flexibility. I can't even do that with the help of a wall pulling my arm back. Good stuff.

I just have to throw out my request for you to do Prior...I was watching the Bartman inning sometime back and immediately noticed that he was significantly different from what he is now...this at full speed, without a professional eye of any sort.
   12. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 10, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2331090)
RE: Prior

He's actually next in line. I don't have the greatest clips to work with so it might be somewhat of a challenge, but that said, Prior, like you say, is WAY different nowadays. IF I could get a clip of him pitching during spring training, that would be great.
   13. Honkie Kong Posted: April 10, 2007 at 04:12 PM (#2331098)
Nice entry.
by the way, if you like hard throwing sidearmers, the Braves have a reliever called Peter Moylan. throws 96 from the side with good sink. Supposedly just got up one day and started throwing from the side with that velocity
   14. Raskolnikov Posted: April 10, 2007 at 05:58 PM (#2331204)
Neshek was my favorite reliever in the majors. Then Joe Smith came to town. Nasty stuff.
   15. Danny Posted: April 10, 2007 at 06:31 PM (#2331257)
Excellent as always, CBW. I knew who Neshek was last year because of his obscene strikeout rates, but I didn't get to see him pitch until the playoffs. He looks like he's about to drop down and throw completely submarine, and that has to be part of his deception. It's interesting that he's got that same low BABIP against LHB and RHB, as it seems most sidearmers have pretty big splits. For example, Bradford has a career .276/.336 BABIP split, and Quisenberry was at .267/.293. Could just be the small sample size.

Have you had a chance to see Jay Marshall pitch?
   16. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: April 10, 2007 at 09:50 PM (#2331493)
Awesome as always, CBW. I can't wait to see you break down Prior. Usually, of course, it's just Prior breaking down.
   17. Kirby Kyle Posted: April 11, 2007 at 02:11 AM (#2331785)
This is terrific stuff. I just had a chance to see Neshek pitch an inning against the Yankees (Damon K looking, Jeter K swinging, Abreu deep flyout to CF). This was the first time I'd ever seen him pitch. Some observations from an untrained eye:

He works very quickly. Jeter tried to slow him down with a little extra fidgeting in the box, but once the batter was set, Neshek was moving.

His slider, or whatever it is, tails in on a RH hitter. The unorthodox movement of his pitches reminds me of Byung-Hyun Kim, although Kim's pitches move differently. It's as though the hitter has to take a couple of pitches just to figure out where the ball is going. Damon fanned without ever taking the bat off his shoulder.

I had seen this page before watching him pitch, but decided to follow him before reading the details above. I was also fooled by the shoulder drop into thinking he would come more from underneath. He seems to have a lot of wasted motion (including an odd hitch before stepping into his delivery), but it works well for him.

Thanks, CBW. I always look forward to your contributions.
   18. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 11, 2007 at 03:16 AM (#2331853)

Have you had a chance to see Jay Marshall pitch?

Haven't yet, but I look forward to it.

Also, I don't think his elbows come close to touching. You have a paralax problem with that freeze-frame of yours. He may very well get excellent flexibility out of his shoulder but that video doesn't show it.

I didn't mean that he literally bangs his elbows together, but his scap load is pretty ridiculous by major league standards.
   19. Cris E Posted: April 11, 2007 at 09:13 AM (#2332044)
It's interesting that he's got that same low BABIP against LHB and RHB, as it seems most sidearmers have pretty big splits.

Actually his minor league numbers were stoopid good against righties last summer but were Bonds-making against the lefties until he added something midyear to keep them at bay. At Rochester last year he held RH batters to a .502 OPS in 39 innings.
   20. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:22 AM (#2336716)
Just checked out Jay Marshall. His release point looks to almost exactly at the waist which makes him (with an 84-85mph fastball) a turbocharged version of Mike Myers. Good pickup....
   21. We don't have dahlians at the Palace of Wisdom Posted: April 17, 2007 at 02:39 AM (#2336736)
It's funny how I was a tad disappointed to see that his "turbocharged" fastball was "only" 84-85 mph. It makes me realize how spoiled I was to be able to watch BK pitch in his prime regularly clocking low to mid 90s heat.
   22. tfbg9 Posted: April 18, 2007 at 05:41 PM (#2338158)
Look at this guys's minor league numbers--why did they wait so long to bring him up?
   23. sgbennew Posted: April 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM (#2338608)
Being a big Twins fan it always exciting to watch him come into the game. He's also a MN boy so that makes it even more special and I'm really happy he is getting some recognition.
   24. Cris E Posted: April 19, 2007 at 02:45 AM (#2338896)
why did they wait so long to bring him up?

Lefties killed him for the first half of the year. Plus it's the ultra-conservative Twins and this is fairly weird so he had to proven that the whole show was for real.
   25. The Pitching Academy Posted: March 30, 2010 at 07:33 AM (#3488516)
Thank you for sharing these clips. I too like pitchers who throw with their natural abilities that aren't conventional or cloned. He gets a lot of his power by keeping his lower body closed until just before foot strike and then his hips take over utilizing his entire body to throw. Hips activate core, core helps rotation of the rest of the upper body all the way to fingertips.

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