I remember watching video from James Norwood’s rookie-ball days and thinking, He looks like a normal pitcher. Well, I don’t think that anymore.
Today, the Cubs rookie reliever displays a fastball that can touch triple digits and a changeup that drops off a cliff, which translated to K/9 rates of close to 10 and ERAs less than 2.50 over parts of the past two seasons at AA Tennessee. Numbers aside, what makes Norwood such an interesting pitcher is a slightly unorthodox delivery that somewhat resembles another highly successful big-league reliever.
Look at the quirky mechanics and see if you get who I’m talking about. See how his front leg starts way off to the third-base side? And how his overall setup is close to third base in general?
When Norwood was drafted and working his way through the lower tiers, he actually utilized a more traditional wind-up that looks much different than what we saw during his MLB debut.
I was reminded of Greg Holland while watching Norwood pitch against the Giants. While Norwood doesn’t fall off to first base as drastically, he does naturally move to his left, especially since he starts off his delivery so close to third.
Norwood wasn’t being picked up by most of our prospect radars before he debuted, but he should be in all discussions when talking about the future of this Cubs bullpen. I can’t recall many pitchers who throw in the upper 90’s with ease and drop in changeups that look like heaters up until the last second, all with such an unusual delivery.
Is Norwood a future high-leverage arm? I think it’s obvious that he has the potential.