I'm not sure why but when you throw your fastball it actually looks like it is coming in at 90+ miles per hour even though it is actually in the 86-89 range. Can you explain why it looks that way?
"Me being more deception is something that Coach Thompson and I have worked on. I have been so vanilla, so plain for so long that everybody could see it coming out of my hand so easily. We decided to change something up so that I could, hopefully, be dominant, be All-SEC, be an All-American this season. And it has helped."
Your delivery is so unique. It is almost like you are a machine. You start your delivery and it is exactly the same each time and it is so quick.
"When I was growing up and learning to pitch my coach and I tried to make it as perfect as possible to prevent chances of an injury and also to be good at pitching. That kind of transferred into where I am now, trying to be slightly more athletic looking instead of being point A to point B to point C."
I want to talk about your windup a little more. You mentioned that you wanted to add deception to your delivery. Is part of your windup itself part of the deception? Why I ask that is because when I'm watching your pitch, the way you deliver the ball is so distracting that I'm watching it and not the ball. Is that part of the reason you changed your windup?
"What we did with my windup is similar to what Virginia does. All of Virginia's pitchers crouch right before they pitch. Chris Stratton starts in a crouch. I crouch, then I do like Roy Oswalt, go through my windup as fast as I can while still staying under control. Sometimes I can get too fast and get out of control. But my main goal is to go fast and stay under control."
Do you notice immediately if you are going too fast?
"Yeah, the ball will be up out of the hand and I'll start throwing balls all over the place. I'll then have to kind of reset. So, yeah, it is pretty immediate."
Another aspect of your pitching that is so good is your curveball. When it is on, it is unhittable.
"Yeah, my curveball was what I came in with. Coach Thompson wanted me to switch to a slider because sometimes it is harder to control. The slider looks like a fastball up to a lot of guys and they want to hit it over the fence. My slider kind of helped me last year. My slider is usually 82 to 84 (miles per hour)."
Do you talk to the MSU hitters about your pitching?
"I talk to some hitters. But then you have some hitters like Reid (Humphreys) who are just natural. I asked him one day what he was looking for when he hit a ball off the wall against me and he said I was looking for a curveball. I said that was a fastball up and away. He said, 'yeah, I don't know.' (laugh).
"But I do talk to some of them but, for the most part, what they do with their actions and how they hit it tells me a lot."
I know you have dominated as a closer in the fall and pre-season. In the five pre-season games that I have seen you pitch in you have thrown 5 innings, allowed 0 runs on 1 hit and 4 walks while striking out 11. But you also pitched really well as a starter for about 3 to 4 innings. Why are you so dominant those first few innings?
"One of the things that Coach Thompson and I talked about is, in my opinion, I feel like I am the best guy on the team one time through the lineup. That doesn't mean that I am the best pitcher or anything like that, just that one time through the lineup I am better than anyone else on the team."
Explain why you feel you are the best pitcher one time through the lineup?
"I can't explain it. I guess it is the breaking balls; they see it one time and it is difficult to hit. Then they see it a second or third time it is easier to pick out."
Something that you are good at is throwing different velocities against a hitter. They rarely see the same velo in the same at-bat. Is that intentional?
"I wish I could say it is but it is one of those things where it sometimes comes out at 87 and sometimes it is 88. It is hit or miss."
I want to talk to you about what you were doing against one of the hitters in the last game you pitched. Tell me what you were trying to do against Mike Smith. You threw him a fastball that he swung and miss, then threw a slider, then another fastball that he swung and miss, then you struck him out on a curveball.
"I started Mike off with a fastball, then threw a slider after that because I wanted to play off of that and, hopefully, he would swing at it and go to an 0-2 count, but I threw it for a ball. That was a pitch to go strike, strike, ball. That is a pattern two pitch that we call it here. Then, I threw another fastball in that he swung and missed. Then I threw him a curveball, which looks like an upper zone fastball then it goes down to the bottom. He swung and missed it."