Blacksmith Throws 98 MPH Heat At Bradley

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

PEORIA, Ill. — Bradley RHP closer Theron Denlinger has a cannon for an arm with a 98-mph fastball.

What makes him such a fascinating story is that in April of 2016, he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Prior to the injury, the hardest he ever threw a fastball was 87 mph at Madison College before coming to Bradley.

After a medical redshirt year with rehabilitation, he began utilizing a unique regimen that impacted his amazing 11 mph velocity gain and kept his arm healthy at the same time.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound closer became heavily involved with making knives, swords and axes in his dad’s blacksmith shop at home in Cuba City, Wisc.

Denlinger placed iron or steel in a forge that reached temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees.

He then took the red-hot metal out of the forge and pounded it with an 8-pound sledge hammer on an anvil to sculpt different items with the vision he had in mind.

Imagine picking up a sledge hammer this heavy and pounding away on metal for long periods of time which, by the way, is similar to the throwing motion by a pitcher.

Collegiate Baseball has never interviewed any pitcher or knows of any who has used blacksmith methods to build up an arm to increase velocity, arm strength and recover from Tommy John surgery as Denlinger has.

This wasn’t some grand scientific experiment by Denlinger. His love for blacksmithing was the sole factor.

As the years went by from Tommy John surgery, it was hard not to notice consistent jumps in his fastball velocity.

He is not sure if the velocity jump to 98 mph was because of swinging the 8-pound sledge hammer hour after hour or if it was because of a combination of throwing baseballs at Bradley directed by fabulous coaches, long toss, weight training, utilizing plyo balls and blacksmithing.

Only two years after rehabbing his elbow from surgery, he made 22 appearances at Bradley during the 2019 season to lead the Braves with 6 saves and a 2.86 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Denlinger, who has a 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, cutter, curve and changeup in his pitching repertoire, didn’t allow a run in 18 of his 22 appearances and didn’t surrender a hit in 16 of 22 outings. Opponents hit just .175 against him in 2019.

Last season, he only pitched in 4 1/3 innings before the season was shut down because of COVID-19.

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 26, 2021 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Denlinger explains what he did in blacksmithing to come back from Tommy John surgery in only nine months and was throwing 3 MPH harder than he ever threw before, plus much more.