Tim Lincecum and the 5 Best Starting Pitchers with Unorthodox Mechanics
It is often said "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, these are some pitchers who get it done despite some unusual methods of delivery.
Pitching coaches have never been given a reason to change them because they just keep performing. Some mechanical oddities come with injury risk, but these five all pitched 30-plus games last season.
They are among the best and most-durable arms in the game, and they are constantly proving there is more than one way to get people out.
No. 5 Tim Wakefield
The face of the modern-day knuckleball, Tim Wakefield is now serving as somewhat of a sixth starter for the Boston Red Sox, and he continues to baffle hitters, carrying a 1.186 WHIP through 43 innings of 2011.
Wakefield might have the single most-understated delivery in baseball, looking as if he's simply playing casual catch with the catcher. The term "heat" will never be used to describe his "fastball."
However, he has 195 career wins, and the Red Sox still consider him an indispensable part of their bullpen.
No. 4 Bronson Arroyo
The picture says it all. Bronson Arroyo has a horizontal leg kick.
While most pitchers bring their knees into the bodies and then stride for home, Arroyo kicks his foot straight out and up to a severe angle, collapsing and delivering his pitch.
Pitching is largely about balance, and Arroyo has mastered his own balance in using the leg kick.
One might say the awkward extension would surely lead to hamstring and knee problems down the road, but Arroyo has never been placed on the DL in 12 seasons, and has pitched 30-plus games every year since 2004.
No. 3 Ubaldo Jimenez
While most pitching motions are fluid, Ubaldo Jimenez stops.
Just after his leg kick and delivery, there is a short stop before Jimenez separates his hands, hiding the ball behind him, and then strides and delivers home.
The effect is maddening to hitters, which resulted in Jimenez winning 19 games with a 2.88 ERA last season. A hitter trying to time his motion for a swing can find the sudden stop perplexing.
Hitting a pitch after being throw off balance is hard enough, but hitting a fastball that has been clocked at 100 MPH, and a biting slider as good as any in baseball is darn near impossible.
No. 2 Jered Weaver
Jered Weaver's oddity is not as pronounced now as it was early in his career, but the big right-hander turns much of his back to the batter, before wheeling around and uncorking his dizzying array of pitches.
The twist allows him to hide the ball until the latest possible second. This motion allowed Weaver to lead the league in strikeouts in 2010 with 233. He also posted a 3.01 ERA.
Weaver can get away with the turn because he has excellent control, and can pick up the catcher's target in an instant and hit the glove with pinpoint accuracy.
No. 1 Tim Lincecum
Tim Lincecum's delivery is partly responsible for his nickname "The Freak." It could also have something to do with the fact that, at 5'11", 165 pounds, he is one of the most dominant power pitchers in baseball.
The reason people were wary to draft the star out of Washington was the inverted L. Watching his delivery, there is an inverted L shape to his throwing arm after it leaves the glove, this creates tremendous torque on the arm as it comes around to throwing position.
There is concern it will lead to injury eventually, but right now he is simply the second-best pitcher in baseball. He is just five strikeouts short of 1,000 and there are already two Cy Young Awards on his mantle at only 26 years old.
Good luck trying to tell him he needs to change.