Casey Fossum, making his season debut tonight, is not a large man. At 6’1 and one-hundred sixty pounds, he blends in more with the writers in a locker room than with his teammates. It is interesting, then, that he can sometimes slip a fastball past the big-time hitters in the AL East.
How does he compete in a league full of giants? By recognizing who he is and adjusting his motion accordingly. Fossum understood early in life that he would never have the body of a power pitcher. So, with the help of his father, he developed a windup reminiscent of a time when nearly everyone was his size.
“I have kind of a throwback delivery,” he explains. “My dad tried to model me after Sandy Koufax.” Fossum, with his father, spent his formative years scrutinizing footage of pitchers from the forties, fifties, and sixties. They watched film of Koufax and other classic pitchers in the HBO series When it Was a Game. He emerged from his research with a large, looping delivery that supplies the power that his body does not.
“Most pitchers now are much bigger and stronger than they were back in the day. For them, the least amount of movement that they can get in their windup, the more they can get of the strike zone. So nowadays, people are cutting down a lot [in their motion].
“But for me, with my size, to generate the velocity that I need, I have to be all over the place, twisting and turning. My delivery is different because there is so much going on.”
Tonight, Fossum will try to regain that delivery, after injuries shortened his season last year. If he can hold down some innings at the back end of that rotation, he’ll be a valuable asset as the Rays wait for Durham to start churning out more arms.