Arsenal question for beginner

So i’m a senior in HS- 17 years old, 5’10, 155 lbs, and have been playing golf the past 5 years and am currently a 3 hadicap. However there will be no golf team at my school this year so im going out for the baseball team. I havent played competitively in over 5 years, however i havent lost my swing, and over the past few months ive been prepping for becoming a SP once again. I already have talked to the varsity coach and he’s already pretty much given me a spot on varsity already. I have been extensively throwing, studying, and training on becoming a SP, and would like some advice on my arsenal.

I already have a very good 2SFB that is basically a sinker for me, and my 4SFB is also under control and precise. I have recently started on a slider that ive quickly fallen in love with, and already have decent control with it. Now here comes the roadblock…I throw a palmball that works as a good changeup, and also have been experimenting with both a knuckle-curve and splitter(both have nasty break and have the potential to be my SO pitch). Due to the fact that all 3 of those pitches are basically change-ups, I have no clue which of those I should drop from my arsenal, if any of them at all? Also is there any other picthes anyone would advise me to pick up? PLEASE HELP!!! All responses are appreciated. Thank You

I agree with the gist of your thinking on this…you really don’t need 3 different “change-up” pitches, you need one that you can command for a strike whenever you call on it.

Which of those off-speed pitches would you feel most confident throwing for a strike on a 3-2 count to an aggressive clean-up hitter in the opposing lineup?

Some guys seem to get enamored with the idea of using every different pitch under the sun but it is sometimes too easily forgotten that command of each pitch requires lots of repetitive training.

Well i have good control with my palmball, its just I’m a little concerned because I dont get much movement on it. And out of the knuckle curve and splitter, I’d have to say that the splitter is easier to control for me.

Way back when, my pitching coach, who was an active major-league pitcher, told me that just about any pitch could be turned into a nice changeup. Actually, both your knuckle-curve and the splitter fall into that category—they can be thrown at a couple of different speeds, either as almost full-speed pitches or as changeups, and inasmuch as you appear not to have a “regular” curve ball I would hang on to both of them. You can use the palm ball as a change, and a good one it is—I remember that this was the first off-speed pitch I picked up.
And if you want something more esoteric, there’s something called the “slip” pitch (not to be confused with a pitch that slips out of the pitcher’s hand and falls to the ground with a resounding “kerplop”, resulting in a balk being called if there’s a runner on base). The slip pitch, as I learned it, is a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip—you can use either a two-finger or a three-finger grip, and by varying the finger pressure you can get the ball to break several different ways. You can have a lot of fun with that one—I used it a lot, and did it ever discombooberate the hitters! :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:

throw the fastballs, the slider and one form of change up. dump the rest. you haven’t been on teh mound for a number of years. if you don’t have a fastball, nothing else matters.

Many coaches feel that any off-speed pitch that you can command for strikes, that is thrown with your usual fastball mechanics and body speed, and travels about 10 - 12 mph off of your fastball speed, will satisfy the criteria for an outstanding change-up.

I agree with you that some movement can also be very helpful on a change-up pitch, but the factors mentioned above: Command, indistinguishable from your fastball, and 10-12 mph off your fastball, are probably more important.

Part of the problem many pitchers have with traditional change-up grips, like the circle-change, the C-change, palm ball: If you throw those pitches with your normal mechanics and body speed and release them with the palm of your hand directed to the target (just like a fastball, right?) and if there are three fingers directly behind the ball (instead of two, as in a normal FB) then you probably don’t take enough speed off of the ball to make it 10-12 mph slower than your FB. If it’s a straight pitch, because of your release, and it is only 4 -6 mph off of your fastball…that’s not so much a change-up as it is a mediocre fastball. Those tend to get hit hard.

According to some pretty experienced pitchers/coaches, the best way to take speed off of a traditional change-up grip (again, we’re only talking palm ball, circle change, and C-change here…) is to pre-set your forearm, wrist, and hand with some pronation, and release the pitch with pronation. Because the palm and fingers of your hand are no longer directly behind the ball at release when you pronate those pitches, you automatically take off some speed, even when your delivery mechanics and body speed say “fastball” to the hitter. The extra benefit of pronating those change-ups at the release point is that you will also get some screwball-like movement from them–that comes from the type of spin you impart to the ball when you pronate at release point.

The down-side is: It takes a lot of work and a lot of quality reps to learn how to release a change-up pitch with pronation and develop it into something you can throw with command at any time in the count.

The splitter is a very nice alternative for guys who just cannot seem to make the traditional change-ups work for them. It is released palm-forward, just like a fastball, so there is no tricky release-point pronation to control. The index and middle fingers are split, of course, so there is not much behind the ball, even when you throw it with full fastball mechanics–for many guys, that results in a very good change-up. Again, you need to command this pitch, and you need to be able to throw it so that it looks to the hitter like a fastball strike in the low part of the zone…a good splitter will drop below the strike zone after the hitter has already put his swing in motion for something he thinks is your fastball.

I don’t know anything about knuckle-curves, I’m afraid. There are certainly some pitchers who have good ones, but I just don’t have a feel for how much is involved in learning one, or whether they can be controlled as readily as the other change-up alternatives. Maybe someone else here at LTP knows the details about k-c’s.

Dusty’s succinct advice should be re-read, though: You need to command a fastball, or you’ve got nothing to work from. From there, you need an effective breaking pitch and a single type of change-up.

Just add a change is what I’d suggest, you know like that palm change you mentioned.

Okay so I’ll definitely keep my palmball, and still hold onto my splitter for a good strike-out pitch, and I think drop my knuckle-curve completely. But yes, my fastball and slider have been getting more and more under control after each pitching session, so with a consistent palmball to changeup, and a nasty sinking splitter as a strike-out pitch I think I’ll be okay.

Keep them all.

You might want to elaborate a little. Perhaps explain why you disagree with the others. List your experience, training, education or other qualifications that would help this person make an informed decision. I like brevity in some instances but three words of contradiction doesn’t suffice here. :?

In my opinion 3 good consistent pitches are better than 4 or 5 “okay” pitches. If I were you I would just work on a fastball, changeup variation (circle change, 3 finger, palmball, etc.), and 1 “offspeed” pitch (Cutter, Curve, Slider, Knuckle Curve, etc.). Once you get those perfected then think about adding another pitch.

keep the knuckle-curve as a curveball and use it as a breaking pitch. didnt many great pitcher say: if you have a fastball, a curve and a change, you will be set?

so you might need a type of fastball, breaking pitch and a changeup. isnt slider and splitter classified as fastball. btw isnt cutter a type of fastball as well.

I don’t see why he shouldn’t throw all of his pitches.

ok, keep throing all your stuff. let’s look at the greats:

sandy koufax - 2 pitches FASTBALL - curve (both considered plus pitches)

bob gibson - FASTBALL - slider . (both plus pitches) had a curveball but even he says it wasn’t very good.

nolan ryan - FASTBALL, curve, change which he didn’t use very often. became dominant when he mastered the curveball.

mariano rivera - CUTTER, that’s it - one pitch

what should you learn here, you must have a fastball. if not i will get on top of the plate because you can’t throw inside and if you hit me so what,and when you throw the pitch low and outside it’s coming right back at you and you can’t get out of the way when somebody that knows what they are doing is swinging a metal bat.

if you have one off-speed or breaking pitch that is all you need, but it must be thrown for strikes. if not, i won’t swing at it till you do throw it for strikes.

most guys that have 5 to 10 pitches don’t have anything or they’re playing rec ball. when you play the big boys you better wear a cup when you go to the mound with no fastball and stuff that just spins.

Um Gibson threw a change-up also.

“I don’t see why he shouldn’t throw all of his pitches.”

-----Right, it’s not as though you will have to live with the consequences if thamberg takes your advice seriously.

It’s fine to have an opinion, kevinbert, but Dino already asked you very clearly to give us a little of the substance behind your opinion in this thread. If there isn’t any reasoning behind your opinion, and if you’re just blowing smoke up people’s *sses for the fun of it, you should consider that it might be even more fun to learn something from the people at LTP who do have opinions born of experience.

There’s actually quite a bit of valuable baseball experience to be found here but you won’t get the most out of it if you just want to be an internet poser.

I’d like to expand on something Dusty touched on. It has been a long time since you have been on the mound. Don’t underestimate the impact of emotions, nerves, etc. on your first few outings. It sounds like you’ve played competitive golf so you should know what I mean.

In tournament golf a major mental hurdle is getting your game from the practice range to the golf course. That little knock-down cut shot on the range can easily turn into a come-over snap hook when your tempo quickens under pressure. The same is true in taking your pitching from the bullpen mound to the one between the lines. Things change. The mound may be different, your fingers may feel different, your tempo will quicken, your breathing will change etc. and reliance on too many “feel” pitches can lead to problems. The simpler you can keep things the better.

So I’m with the group that says the fewer the “feel” pitches to master the better. I’d stay with the fastballs, slider and one off-speed pitch and work hard to master these- with emphasis on the fastballs. For the off-speed pitch in your case I’d recommend the splitter. As laflippin says it’s easier to learn than a pronated change-up and likely more effective than a palm ball. The wider you spread your fingers the slower it goes, especially if you learn to drag your thumb a little on release.

A word of caution as well. The slider is notoriously hard on young arms- some say the 2nd hardest on the arm behind the cutter. You haven’t played in a while and it’s likely you haven’t built up the overall total body and arm strength that others who’ve been playing for several years have. Be careful and keep the slider to 15-20% of the total.

One more thing while I’m on a roll. Between now and the first game try to put yourself into as many pressure situations as you can to see how you react, see how hitters react. Whether this is through scrimmages, live BP, anything that may interupt your focus on mechanics. On a golf related note one of Tiger’s drills is to make 100 consecutive 3-foot putts. He’s not practicing 3-footers, he’s really practicing pressure. How would you like to invest the time and effort to make 99 in a row and then miss #100 and have to start over. Your feet are tired, your back is tired, you’re probably hungry, you want to get home, etc.- all are potential distractions- and not unlike how he may feel on the 72nd hole of a tournament. He’s not there to practice 1-99- although those certainly serve to sharpen his focus- he’s there to practice and make #100- it just takes the first 99 to set the stage.

La, I don’t see why you’d call me a poser. I just think he should throw all of his pitches because he’d keep the batters off balance. He’d make it harder for hitters to prepare for him.

Oh and you guys want experience, I’m 12. Now I know why nobody will listen to me on this site. Nobody wants an opinion from a 12 year old, no matter how much that 12 year old knows about his craft.


A 12 yo is entitled to form opinions and express them; however, you were asked in a very straightforward way by Dino to give the reasoning and experience-level behind your opinion in this thread. You didn’t bother to do that until you were prompted more than once.

I think it is really good that younger guys like you are trying to learn here and make what contributions you can, but the internet is a double-edged sword. The anonymity of the internet tends to put a 12 yo’s assertions about baseball on a par with guys like Dusty Delso, who really has many years of playing and coaching experience under his belt. There is a real good reason why your coaches and your teachers are all quite a bit older than you–it takes lots of time, focus, and experience to master the subjects that they teach. At 12 yo, you have not had enough time or enough experiences to be a master of any craft. If you have the will to stay focused and learn and gain experience, however, mastery of any craft is eventually within your scope.

In “real life”, that is, as a 12 yo player on a real baseball team, you will not get anywhere by ignoring the advice of your experienced coaches and blurting out your advice to older, more experienced players. Instead of making lots of blunt assertions to coaches and older, more experienced players (which is easy to do on the internet, right?)…try to realize that the bigger opportunity for you at a place like LTP is to ask good questions and try to understand the answers that more experienced guys can give you. You don’t need to agree with everything–obviously there are lots of disagreements between even the most experienced coaches and players; however, sometimes it is better to spend some time trying to figure out which of those experienced opinions makes the most sense to you, rather than always making sure that you have thrown your own hat in the ring.

I hope it hasn’t escaped your attention that there are some very experienced coaches at LTP and some advanced players, including college-level and varsity HS-level guys.

Anyway, here’s the basic problem with your assertion that “keeping everything” is a good idea for the OP: It is trivial for a hitter to prepare for a young pitcher who is trying to throw as many different pitches as he can grip–that pitcher will not be able to control the strike zone with any of them. To hit against that type of pitcher, you go up looking for a mediocre fastball that is occasionally in the zone and lay off of everything else because it will almost always be a ball. Be prepared to get on base by walks and HBPs.

On the other hand, as a hitter you are not going to get very many of those easy match-ups beyond Little League because winning coaches don’t use pitchers who can’t throw strikes consistently.

I never wanted to cause an argument. I just stated an opinion. I think thamberg should keep his pitches. I have tremendous respect for all of the older guys, and if I give advice to an older guy, how would I know he’s older? This site doesn’t require your age to be posted. Also, the only reason I give advice is that I want to help people. I know I haven’t mastered any craft yet. And La, I have tremendous respect for Dusty, he knows a lot about baseball, and he has told me that I know a lot about baseball. And I don’t see why my opinions cannot be valued, and that every time I say an opinionated statement, I have to prove the basis of my thinking. I give my opinions because I want to coach someday. I don’t see why I can’t provide my own advice because much of the conventional wisdom about sports is
wrong. Is this age discrimination?