Michiel Van Kampen: RHP Dutch National Team, 2008 Olympics, 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic


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

I had always been a pitcher that threw straight over the top, but had always had the problem of getting movement on it. For years I tried everything, but never found consistent movement. I think it was in 2006 during the Harlem Baseball week that my arm was a little tired and I was in relief for the final against Cuba who I had pitched against in the tournament already. In the bullpen warming up I just decided to change arm slot and drop down a little to gain some movement and it worked like crazy. I pitched 3 innings against the Cubans and pretty much dominated with a sinking fastball. Since then I started dropping down more often and eventually dropped way down and turned into completely different pitcher.


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

The advantages of throwing from downunder were that I was able to create a lot of movement and it actually took less effort to throw the ball. I was able to pitch more innings per outing and could come back several games in a row without really getting sore. I turned me into a more complete pitcher.


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

If I wouldn't have dropped down I don't think I would have had the same success and probably would not have played on our national team for as long as I did. I knew i had to change myself to prolong my career, especially with more and more younger arms coming up that threw hard and over the top. I made the switch and it worked out for the better. If I had known the success I would get from changing arm angle I would have done it a long time before that.


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

I wouldn't just change arm angles just for the sake of changing armangles. For me it was to prolong my career. If you switch arm angle do it to have a better change of making a team, to prolong your career just for the right reasons. I always started dropping a little when getting tired or lazy with my mechanics and doing it came pretty natural. For others it feels very uncomfortable and actually hurts their abilities as a pitcher. If a pitcher is really deadset on dropping down stay committed and give it a shot and work on it day in and day out.


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

The mechanics are not that different. Just the tilt in your upper body creates a different arm angle, but the general way to throw a baseball is pretty much the same. All i can say is you will affect your body differently and put more strain on muscles you don't use overhand, especially the lower back and the obliques. Gotta work them out a lot more than before.


6. What pitches did you throw?

Overhand I threw a fastball, curveball/slider and a change up. After I dropped down I was pretty much 85% moving fastball and a slider with an occasional change up. My 2nd season I actually threw from every angle you can think off. From way down to straight over the top to keep hitters guessing, but 90% from a low sidearm angle.


7. How did you pitch to lefties/righties?

Righties I pitched mainly in and ran the ball into their hands or onto their backfoot to get groundballs. It is a lot harder to pitch lefthanders because every pitch went away from them into their swing plane. That's where I changed angles more often and came over the top to come inside. Usually with the national team I came in to face righties and an occasional lefty, but as soon as the opponents team was stacked with lefties we used other pitchers.


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

My favorite thing was that I was able to pitch at a high level for longer and that I had less strain on my arm, so I was able to pitch more.