Becoming a finesse pitcher


Hi, everyone. I am 16, 5’7" - 5’8", about 145 pounds, and I guess I throw about upper 70s to low 80s(never been clocked). I definitely have room to grow because my growth plates are still open. Both my parents are also tall, but I am not really worried about velocity.

I was wondering if anyone had advice or links to articles on becoming a finesse pitcher like Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine. I am most interested in picking up on batters’ weaknesses. For example picking up flaws in their stance or swing that will leave them open to weaknesses. I also want to develop a good sense of pitching strategy in general, such as throwing my pitches in a sequence where they will make each other more effective.

Currently in my reportoire I have a 4-seam, 2-seam, changeup, and a nasty split/fork. I call it a split/fork because I can vary the break depending on how much I move my fingers apart. I am also working on it to get it to break left or right so I can make it fade in and out of the strike zone. On a good day I can start my fork ball at shoulder height and have it finish at the knees. I have no problem locating my 4-seam, but my 2-seam is a little wild. I have trouble controlling it, but it has so much inside movement that I don’t want to give up on it yet. My change is average with a little down and in movement.

I hope that is enough information. Thanks for any help.


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:


Thanks for the welcome, Zita Carno.

Do you dnow of a resource where I can learn to pick up on and pitch to the batter’s weakness? Are there any rules of thumb when it somes to pitching to people up in the box/back in the box, close to the plate/far from the plate, opened/closed stance, or wide/narrow stance?

I’m sorry I ask so many questions, but I am really interested in making the most of my keen awareness, control, and movement to get hitters out. My goal is to make the hitters work hard and earn anything they get.

Thanks for any help.



I sent you a PM.

Coach B.



I sent you a PM.

Coach B.[/quote]
Thank you very much, Coach Baker.


Hey Coach Baker, Im not sure what you sent Striver but if it was a link or something can you post it here? Thanx