Marlins showcasing successful sidearmers

Marlins showcasing successful sidearmers

SAN DIEGO -- Deception coming at you sideways from both sides is a luxury Miami's bullpen is exploiting.

The Marlins can offer hitters contrasting -- and yet somewhat similar -- looks by going with Steve Cishek and Randy Choate. Both throw sidearm, but not from the same side.

Cishek, a lanky 6-foot-6 right-hander, is emerging into one of the top relievers in the National League. Choate, a veteran, offers a sidearm look from the left side.

"Matchup-wise, I think it gives teams a heartache," said Choate, a lefty specialist being asked to get right-handed hitters out more often this year. "Obviously, Cishek throws a lot harder than I do."

The right-handed Cishek is throwing in the low- to mid-90s, compared to Choate's readings in the 80s. Choate also attacks lefties more with his slider, and left-handed hitters are 1-for-17 (.059) against him this year.

Cishek relies on his fastball and will keep hitters off stride with a slider. Right-handed batters so far are 2-for-26 (.077) against him.

"I think it creates deception," said Cishek, who threw three scoreless innings and picked up the win on Friday night against the Padres. "I'm so tall. They just see ankles and elbows coming at them."

It's not too often you see a team have right-handed and left-handed sidearm relievers. Choate remembers being with the D-backs in 2004, when he was a teammate of Mike Koplove, a right-hander who threw from the side.

Drafted out of Florida State by the Yankees in 1997, Choate was first groomed as a starter. New York wanted him to throw more over the top, and envisioned him being a Jamie Moyer-type pitcher.

That didn't work out, so they told him to throw however he was comfortable. The arm slot lowered and he was moved along as a Graeme Lloyd-like lefty specialist.

"I dropped three quarters, and then went to straight sidearm," Choate said. "That was always easy and more natural when I started doing it from there."

Cishek, a fifth-round pick by the Marlins in 2007, attended Falmouth High School in Massachusetts, and Carson-Newman College.

He said he was never instructed to lower his arm to throw. It came naturally.

"I've thrown that way as long as I can remember," the right-hander said. "When I saw myself throw in college on video for the first time, I didn't realize how low my arm-slot was. So I've always thought I was throwing over the top. It's just how I've learned to throw for a long time."

Because of how rangy Cishek is, right-handed hitters get the feeling that the ball is coming at them from behind them.

"There aren't too many people throwing that same velocity for that arm angle," Cishek said.