Brandon Higelin: The first thing I worked on was my physical appearance. I got up to 228 pounds at the end of the season, which is way to big for my frame. When I came in to spring training I weighed in at 183 pounds. So, I lost 45 pounds this off-season, which is attributed to 40 minutes of cardio and lifting every day and then cutting out soda – that was a big help.
Two months before the season I moved out to San Diego and moved in with my grandparents. I worked out with my pitching coach, Dominic Johnson, and we actually worked on dropping down so now I can have two arm angles versus hitters. That was kind of on the request of (Bill) Bryk. He had asked if I ever thought about it and I told him I haven't but he said it would be a good idea. So, I worked on that and then mechanics a lot to get the most out of what I have and throw a little harder.
It is difficult to stay consistent with your mechanics now that you have multiple arm angles? The reason I ask is many side-armers have trouble keeping the release point the same.
Brandon Higelin: It is not hard at all. Once you get it down it is all about changing the arm angle. You don't have to change your body. As long as your mechanics are sound it is very easy to change arm angles.
Are you throwing the same pitches out of the new arm slot that you throw from your normal delivery and how often do you plan on employing the new angle?
Brandon Higelin: I still throw all four pitches. It is nothing I want to do all the time. It is for that lefty that has your slider and is fouling it off and you can't put him away. Now you have a whole new look to throw him a pitch that he hasn't seen. The same goes with a righty. I can drop down and throw a changeup or a slider or even a fastball.
I worked on that to give me every advantage to be successful as I continue to move forward.
Last year did you find yourself throwing different pitches to different guys and what is the plan this year on attacking lefties and righties?
Brandon Higelin: I am trying to do something I did last year – establish the fastball away, try to get ahead of lefties and throw my slider, which will be a benefit. And when they start looking away, throw two-seamers in. That will be a big plus. And the same with righties. The big key is getting ahead. If I can get ahead, my off-speed pitches are enough to get them out.
You were unbelievable with runners on base last year. What changed that made you so successful in that area?
Brandon Higelin: When I first got to Eugene, coming as a starter, I threw out of the windup. I realized if they are going to have me in the pen there is no need for a windup anymore.
I like coming in with guys on base. The game is on the line. It is more pressure-packed. The best thing for me when I come in with men on base – the biggest thing is I don't want to give up somebody else's runs. They are bringing me in to get the guy out so no one else scores. I look at it as a challenge to myself and my teammates. If I am coming in after the starter or reliever and there are two guys on – if I give up another hit I hurt them. I always want to come in and be successful.
Probably as I keep moving up it will be to keep getting lefties out. That is in key situations against a very good hitter. I just bear down and focus. It does not matter who is on base. It does not matter who is hitting. I just and make my pitch and if I do that I will be successful.