Sidewinders’ unusual release points make it difficult for the batter to “see” the ball, because hitters are so accustomed to seeing the release from near the pitcher’s head. Further, because the ball is released from alongside the rubber (and some sidearm pitchers step a little toward their pitching arm side when they deliver the ball) it can appear to a same-side batter that the ball has been thrown at him.
These characteristics have typecast today’s sidearm pitchers as relievers, entering the game in the late innings as a “different look” from overhand pitchers. Though this is an effective strategy, some of the greatest starting pitchers in baseball history, notably Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, Don Drysdale, Carl Mays, and Dizzy Dean, threw the ball sidearm.
Other prominent major leaguer sidewinders include, or have included, Scott Feldman, Pat Neshek, Scott Sauerbeck, Dennis Eckersley, Mark Eichhorn, Javier López, Jake Peavy, Vinnie Pestano, Ted Abernathy, Dave Baldwin, and Bob Locker. Still others such as Jered Weaver, David Cone, and Tom Henke would sometimes "drop down" to a sidearm delivery to fool a batter for a strikeout.
It is most common to hear that sidearm pitching places less stress on the elbow and shoulder, thus reducing a pitcher's risk of injury. It is also not uncommon to hear the opposite. Analyses of pitchers' deliveries shows that arms slots are a function of shoulder tilt, not elbow angle, and this suggests that no one arm slot poses a greater threat to the elbow than another. It is likely, however, that pitchers who throw overhand are more susceptible to hyperabduction and concomitant rotator cuff problems, because they more easily throw the ball with the elbow higher than the level of the shoulders.
Read more about this topic: Sidearm
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