Keys' Startup Kicks into Motion

Check out Will Startup's unorthodox pitch and where it was originated.

Frederick Keys reliever Will Startup takes to the mound a very unorthodox leg kick delivery that he said was originally a joke.

"It was 2004 and I was at the University of Georgia, and we were warming up for practice. Dontrelle Willis was on Sports-Center that day and I was just goofing around and I was kicking my leg really high and my pitching coach saw me and said hey do you want to take that to the bullpen and try it out? If he never said anything to me it would have been a joke, but it really has turned into the pitcher I am today."

Originally for Startup, the style was more of a leg lift but once he was taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 2005 draft, he said it changed more into a leg kick.

The leg kick for the Keys reliever is extremely faster compared to Willis and Startup explains the difference between his and the former Florida Marlin.

"Dontrelle would just rear up and his leg would go really high. It started as a high leg lift and it just became a kick."

The kick is essential to his control and said if it isn't on point it can affect where his pitches end up whether it is in the zone or out of the zone.

"It is something I have done for the last couple years," Startup said. "My body has grown to accept it and find the proper balance over the top of the rubber."

Startup also mentioned that it was a challenge originally for him to get the proper footing for the delivery. One of the main things he worked on with the kick is his throw to home plate. He throws very quickly to home plate once he makes his kick.

In 13 games this season for Frederick he has a record of 3-0 with a 4.76 ERA. His career minor league record is 21-6 with an ERA of 2.76 in five seasons.

Startup every now and then does throw a conventional pitch from the stretch. The goal he says is to trick the hitters as much as possible.

"When it all comes down to it what a pitcher is trying to do to a hitter is disrupt their timing," Startup says. "Hitters most of the time if they have not seen me before want to see a pitch and try to time it up. I think then maybe next time if I can throw it in the strike zone they will go after it. What I also like to do is come set and no leg kick then I have them looking for the kick then hopefully I can throw a strike and get it by them or get them to hit it poorly. That is all by design."

Switching up the delivery when he is ahead of the count with two strikes is something that he likes to do because the hitters are already on their heels trying to protect the plate and he believes the success rate is higher.

"They have to be ready," Startup said. "I mean if I sneak it by them with one strike and it becomes strike two… that's great but I would rather get ahead of them with two strikes and then try to sneak it by him with a better chance of success for a strikeout."

Startup says he likes to throw a breaking ball off the non-leg kick pitch because hitters mostly think he is coming at them with a fastball. He wants the hitters to believe that and jump on the pitch and strikeout.

The former Braves and Padres pitcher said no one has really tried to change the way he has pitched it was just the original "wow" reaction that he would get from teams when they first saw him pitch. He said there were a lot of laughs and even he admits the pitch is humorous and unorthodox but it is the way he throws and makes a living.


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