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Develop An “Out” Pitch

A successful pitcher has to have a pitch that they can go to in order to get a hitter out. What this means is you need to develop either a change-up or some type of breaking ball that you can not only throw for a strike consistently, but can be used when you need to get a hitter out.

Think of it this way. If it’s a close game, runners on second and third with two outs, and say a 1-2 count; what pitch do you throw? Do you have a great off-speed pitch? Maybe a great 2-seam sinking fastball? That is for you to figure out.

Typically for a starting pitcher, you want to be able to throw 3 pitches for a strike. For example, a fastball, change-up, and a curveball. The point is to find one of your off-speed pitches to master. Maybe you have a difficult time getting your breaking ball over for a strike but feel comfortable throwing the change-up. Great. Master that change-up. See if you can alter the grip ever so slightly to create some movement, sink, and/or less velocity. Have your throwing partner or catcher tell you how the spin looks and work on it until the spin looks similar to a fastball. And then keep working on it.

Developing a curveball or slider involves the same process as mentioned with the change-up. Keep messing around with grips until you find something that feels comfortable and continue to work on that grip. Focus on the spin of the pitch, not by how much it breaks. The tighter the spin, the sharper the pitch and the more difficult it can be to be picked up by a hitter’s eyes.

For a relief pitcher, you need to have two pitches you can throw and locate for a strike which is usually a fastball and either a great change-up, curveball, or slider. If you can develop one great off-speed pitch, that will help you continue pitching for a while.

The point of this is to get you to understand that just having a couple pitches you can flip in for a strike may not be good enough. You need a go-to pitch that can get you out of a jam. As a former college coach, I used to look for just one pitch that I could work with. Maybe the pitcher had an average slider but a great sinker. I’d think, “Hey, we can work on developing the slider but that 2-seamer is awesome.” Or maybe you don’t have a 90mph fastball but you have a curveball that is fairly sharp with tight spin that gets hitters out. That is something college coaches will take a look at.

In an earlier post, we talked about having all these different pitches. This article may be slightly redundant but that’s how import it is to develop a pitch that can get hitters out. Work on one pitch to go along with your fastball. Just one pitch, and then move on to another. It will take time but if you continue to work at it, the pitch will come.


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