When my pitching coach of long ago introduced me to strategic pitching he had one cardinal rule: "Figure out what the batter is looking for—and don’t give it to him."
This is major league stuff, and it’s not too early to talk about it. The important thing is to know those hitters—their strengths and their weaknesses—to observe how they position themselves at the plate, whether they move further forward or further backward in the batter’s box, whether they crowd the plate or “hit with their foot in the bucket” (pull away from the plate as they swing), if they choke up on the bat as if to bunt or try to hit to the opposite field, if they are patient and take one pitch after another in the hope of drawing a walk or at least driving up the pitch count or if they go after the first pitch no matter what it is or where it is.
A vital aspect of strategic pitching involves not only what to throw to the hitter but also where. Back in the 1940s there were two St. Louis Cardinals pitchers, Harry Brecheen and Howie Pollet, who were masters at this; Pollet would often call his infielders together for a meeting and tell them not only what he would throw but also where. Those two guys won a lot of games that way. Even the fireballers were masters of this kind of pitching; many of them would “pitch backwards”—start the batter off with an offspeed or breaking pitch, get two strikes on him and then come in there with the fast ball. They knew that if the batter was going to try to bunt they could get him with a high inside pitch because this is the most difficult for a batter to try to bunt—usually he would pop up or bunt foul with two strikes on him, and "Yer out!"
There’s a lot more, but these are some of the basic elements in pitching to so-called “good hitters” You may be wondering if there is such a thing as a hitter you can’t pitch to? There was one—the Yankees’ Yogi Berra, who would go after any pitch he felt he could get a piece of; the only way to pitch to him, it was said, was to throw the ball under the plate! (He did get more than his share of walks.) 8) :baseballpitcher: