Zach Jackson: Former LHP Brewers, Indians


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

After the 2012 season, I was a free agent. I threw a lot of innings during the season and was 29 years old. I didn’t have plus stuff and was only 89-91 mph. In the off-season I started messing around with the idea of dropping down. Called up some of my buddies like Mitch Stetter and picked their brains. I threw for a couple of teams and ended up talking to Gene Watson from the KC Royals and they signed me. It was either gonna work or not for me. It was a lot of fun for me. 

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

Advantage I was able to get, was the new movement with my fastball. Tried to keep my fingers below/underneath the baseball then would rip up with it. Anytime I was able to get sink on the ball knew I was doing that properly. 

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

I do wish I did earlier. I mean I still did believe in myself but things just weren’t working out at that stage in my career. In AA I had my best season ever with a 1.38 ERA. I was basically in extended spring training til May working on my new delivery. Still ended up with 18 saves that season with joining the team that late.

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

If do decide to drop down it can be a great thing. You have to buy into it and fully commit to it. There will be highs and lows, keep working hard with your bullpens. A lot of guys will have a bad outing and then think about reverting back to old arm slot. Trust your athleticism!  

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

Keep it simple really, grip it and rip it. I would say try to stay down low right thru your pitch. Something that helped me was thinking about my arm slot as if they were arms on the clock. Tried to feel my arm being below 3 o’clock guess more towards 4 o’clock.  If you’re a sinkerballer I would suggest staying on glove hand side of the rubber. If able to vs a same side hitter the more you can stay on same side of rubber the deceptive you will be. Mixed in with a crossfire deliver can be very difficult to hit. Something Tim Dillard warned me about was to still make sure I was long tossing to keep your arm strong. I would long toss from over the top then when would come in then would pulldown throwing sidearm. 

6. What pitches did you throw?

I threw my sinker 90% of the time. Also a split and then breaking ball. Was able to get that pitch to rise, guess it would upshoot as they say. I was 84-88mph touch 90mph. Tricky thing is though the harder I threw from there the more my ball would flatten out. 

 7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

For me it clicked when I dropped down, against every hitter my first pitch would be a sinker away. I would watch the hitters’ front foot. If opening up/flying open, I would stay away. If diving in, then I would come inside.                                                                                    

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

After I dropped down, I was able to throw everyday. Transitioning from a starter to reliever, I kind of felt like a position player now since I was ready to play everyday.