Striver, you’ve come to the right place.
In my playing days, many moons ago, I was a finesse pitcher. When as a kid I realized that I would never be a fireballer like Feller, Raschi, Gibson, Verlander or Sabathia (to name five such), I decided to go in the other direction. I became a snake-jazzer and a very good one. I discovered, at age 11, that I was a natural sidearmer with, of all things, a pretty good curveball that came attached to that delivery, and I picked up a couple of other breaking pitches—and then, at age 16, I learned the slider and it became my strikeout pitch. Next thing you know, I had a closetful of assorted breaking stuff, plus a four-seam “fast ball” that topped out at 81 MPH and a very good crossfire. All this served me well for more than two decades.
You’re off to a good start. You have a nice little assortment of pitches to work with—incidentally, you’re not alone in throwing both the fork ball and the splitter; Jose Contreras has both pitches and he does nicely with them. Of course, control and command are of paramount importance—I had a wise and wonderful pitching coach, an active major-league pitcher, who told me that if one can’t overpower the hitters one should outthink and outfox them. The first step there is location—getting the ball to go where you want it to—and to this end he said to me, “Move the ball around—high, low, inside, outside, and change speeds. And stay away from the middle of the plate.” There are ways you can work on this, and in my opinion the best way is with a good catcher who can position his mitt in various places so you can practice hitting those spots, getting the ball into the pocket of the mitt wherever it is.
My pitching coach was one of the greatest strategic pitchers in the history of the game. His name was Ed Lopat, he was a member of the Yankees’ legendary Big Three rotation, and what he told me about the ins and outs of strategic pitching was nothing short of priceless. One time I asked him about his approach to pitching to hitters, and I said “It’s kind of like judo, isn’t it?” His reply: “You could say that. The principle is the same—using the batter’s power against him. You make the hitters supply their own power. You don’t give them anything they can hit. You take their power and turn it back against them.” He spoke of observing the guy at bat, taking note of such things as how he stands at the plate, whether he shifts his feet and where, does he uppercut or chop down at the pitch, is he a dead-pull hitter or will he go to the opposite field, is he patient at the plate and hoping to work a walk or does he go after the first pitch no matter where it is—the whole idea is, you figure out what the batter is looking for and you don’t give it to him!And he worked with me extensively, helping me refine that crossfire and expand my repertoire; I became a better pitcher as a result, and for that I will always remember him.
Above all—and this is also of paramount importance—trust your stuff. When you have your pitches working for you, when your control and command are there, when you know you have some good fielders behind you who can get some outs for you now and then—you can pitch with confidence. Again, welcome to the wonderful world of the finesse pitcher! 8) :baseballpitcher: