New sidearm delivery pays quick dividend for Gorzelanny

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tom Gorzelanny

Cleveland – Well, Tom Gorzelanny certainly didn't sugarcoat it.

Asked when he decided to change his delivery, the Tigers lefty reliever said, "When the (crap) hit the fan."

After the worst stretch of his eight-year career – 12 runs, 12 hits, eight walks over 5.2 innings – Gorzelanny unveiled a new sidearm delivery Tuesday night, pitching a scoreless inning against the Indians. He gave up a hit and walked two batters in a third of an inning pitched in Wednesday's 8-2 loss.

"I had to start making some adjustments, I guess," he said. "Just change it up a little bit, try something new, bring something else to the table."

He got the idea of dropping his arm angle from White Sox lefty Zach Duke, who he played with first in Pittsburgh and then last season in Milwaukee.

"It's something that I've always kind of screwed around with," Gorzelanny said. "I played with Zach Duke and he did that a few years ago. Seeing him make that transition, I thought it was something I could do."

He was encouraged by both pitching coach Jeff Jones and manager Brad Ausmus to make the change. Ausmus caught Gorzelanny's bullpen before the game Tuesday and was impressed by how the new delivery put some life back into his pitches.

"He just started doing it three or four days ago," Ausmus said. "He decided to see how it looked in a game. He felt good about it. I think it's something you will see moving forward."

He faced the Indians' 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth inning. He got Michael Brantley to ground out. He struck out Ryan Raburn, with his fastball hitting 92 mph. Then retired Carlos Santana on a pop to short.

It was his first clean inning since May 22. It didn't go as well Wednesday – he gave up a hit and walked two – but, as he said, it's still a work in progress.

"It's a different look, a different angle," Gorzelanny said. "It puts more movement on the pitches. ... It's just about making the right pitch. Just going out there and trusting everything and letting it go, letting the ball do its work.

"Going down to the side just gives me a little bit of an advantage."

So far so good.

"Just trying to give the hitters something to think about," he said.

Twitter @cmccosky