Fastball, Fastball, Fastball is the best answer you could possibly get – and that from a former Major Leaguer.
There’s an old adage in baseball, especially for pitchers who can command a fastball, and that is “use it, or lose it!” Besides, a decent fastball – given age and playing level, can be one of the greatest equalizers for the ole David vs. Goliath scenarios (pitcher vs. power hitters) in addition to demonstrated game knowledge and matching ability by the player on the hill.
(1.) A fastball has more variations to it then any other pitch in your repertoire. Two seam, four seam, and location on the corners of plate – high inside/outside, low inside/outside, not to mention setting up
for the next pitch(s) – are the hallmarks of talent by reason of ability, not just brute force. In fact, these demonstrated skills show a deeper level of understanding of a batter’s weakness based on feet placement, hand posture with the bat, batting order logic, base runner what-if’s, time and distance and distance and time relationships of fielding, and a host of other particulars that no other pitch can. A pitcher with even a modest fastball - that’s accurate, can increase the probability of pitching to the double play, pitch to the popup, pitch to the bunt, etc, etc. No other pitch in the game can make that claim. No other pitch.
(2.) A youngster that has a well developed changeup, has all the earmarks of a Major Leaguer in the makings. When done right, there’s nothing more frustrating to a batter, a batting coach, a third base coach, sponsors, booster club elite, and mom and dad in the bleachers ----- than watching a clubs shining star whirl like a pinwheel trying to crush a great changeup! I can not begin to tell you how effective it
is to an entire bench – theirs and yours!
Ok, the other pitches are great to have and use — but, the question is when do you use –em, and when don’t you use –em? From a coaching standpoint it has been my experience that few, if any, amateur player(s) can answer that question. On the other hand, the one answer that pops up the most is …
“Ahhh, well… I think it’s to mix up my pitches… right coach?”. Even more important is the consideration as to what’s working the day you’re scheduled to take the hill. In other words, suppose you’re scheduled to pitch next week – say Tuesday. You get to the park and start to warm up, do your thing, and go through your repertoire. Somebody should know if your pitch selection is working 100%. Usually, pitching coaches have a percentage sheet that gives a fair appraisal of a pitcher’s effectives, given an appearance that day and since no two pitchers are exactly the same on any given day, these pitch percentage sheets tend to advise the head coach, infield coach, etc., of what’s in the mix even before things get going on the field. So, if you’re noted for say - a slider, curve, split finger, knuckleball, and four seam/two seam and changeup, well all of these pitches will have a certain degree of effectiveness on any given day. So, if your fastball by location is 80%, your slider is 40%, your curve is 45% , your split finger is 80%, and your knuckleball is 10% – then it should be a foregone conclusion to the coaching staff how to pitch to the apposing lineup, how to pitch with runners on –son on and so forth.
And finally, a fastball that’s accurate and can paint the corners is an awesome skill to bring to a tryout, showcase, invitation, etc. Velocity is a good thing – but if not getting strikes it’s simply ………
“seams in the wind son, just seams in the wind”.