Schmoll Makes the Right Change

Pitchers have to be willing do anything to get a hitter out, and Steve Schmoll has the right mindset, he had to completely change just to play.

Cut as a position player from the team at the University of Maryland, Schmoll went home and decided he wanted to play. So he built a pitcher mound in his back yard and taught himself how to pitch. He was okay, threw the ball well, but was messing around one day and started throwing submarine style--

"I don't really consider myself a submarine pitcher." Schmoll says. do you describe it? "When I think of submarine guys I think of guys like Chad Bradford of the A's. You know, guys who's knuckles are almost scraping the ground. But I'm not really sidearm either, that's more like Dennis Eckersley, I'm sort of in-between the two."

Yeah, okay, so he's in between. Whatever, its funky, and nobody who bats right handed is hitting him. We'll get to that, back to the story.

So he starts throwing...somewhere between submarine and sidearm, and the Maryland coaches asked him if he could throw that way more often. "I started going 60%-70% overhand and using that delivery as an out pitch."

When he got to the Dodgers organization they had a specific idea in mind for him. "I got here and they told me they wanted me to just throw underhand, so that's what I did." This was a very good move.

Right handed hitters look bad against Schmoll. Some of the best right handed hitters in the minors have looked bad, and some of the best in the Arizona Fall League are looking bad right now. If Schmoll is pitching and you're playing second base, stay on your toes. "It seems like everybody goes up there trying to jerk the ball, and they keep grounding out to second. That's fine with me."

Everybody keeps grounding out because Schmoll has a lethal combination of speed, movement, and a difficult to pick up arm angle. "I throw a little harder than most submarine guys. I've got the same pitches though, fastball/slider/change-up."

Yes, his pitch is called a slider, but don't let that fool you. "It moves a little differently because of the way I throw," he says this with a smile, "and I've actually got two sliders. One sweeps across the plate, but the other one comes across and rises."

Rises? That's not right, and that's exactly what hitters are thinking on their way back to the dugout.

Schmoll has really moved through the system quickly, and credits his pitching coaches with that, especially since in a lot of instances they didn't know what to do with him.

"I guess it was weird at first because sometimes I was the first guy [who throws submarine] the coaches had seen, but after a couple times seeing me they realized that it really is the same stuff with me as everybody else; footwork, arm angle, the basics, and they have all helped."

As far as where he'll be next season, he takes a very laid back attitude. "I've really liked being down here, the weather's great, and I'm pitching well. I don't have control over where I end up next season, so I don't worry about it. I know I'm going to be a middle relief, right handed specialist, and as long as I execute and get people out I think I'll continue to move up."

Where ever it is, it'll be a long way from his backyard.