Combos of pitches and their effective set ups

I really wanted to set up a thread for people to suggest combinations of pitches that set up and compliment one another.

For instance, the obvious would be the fastball to set up the change. But I’m sure that there an infinite amount of others and I’d really like to hear the creative combos that I’m sure many of you have. This would not only be extremely helpful but also really fun to mess around with once the suggestions and experiences start to come in.

So to get the ball rolling, can a well executed slider be used to set up a two seamer or variations there of?

I know we’ve got some incredible baseball minds here at LTP so I’m really looking forward to some of the creative and practical set up combos you all have in your bags of tricks.

What an extreme help this’ll be for a guy like me at my level of progress.

Thanx in advance.

One of mine is just a simple knuckleball, knuckleball, fastball. Going from a slow fluttering pitch that needs to be waited on to even a 75 mph fastball is a shocking difference and can help rack up the Ks.

For some of you conventional guys maybe try starting out with the changeup and set up the fastball, similar concepts without the bugs bunny movement.

Yeah, I can totally relate dude. My catcher doubles as a knuckleballer and messing around with him is always an adventure. In addition to his knuck and fastball, he also throws a spike slider and a curve. He doesn’t get enough time to really work on everything though, but when he’s executing on a good day, he makes me look stupid just trying to catch him let alone hit him.

I’d be interested in passing along some good combos of those four pitches if anyone has any creative ideas.

Location can also play a big part in these different set up combos too. For instance:Couple of cutters or fastballs up and in- sinker or change down and away. But that’s another fairly obvious one as well.

That’s nice that you work with a knuckleballer, it’s tough work you have to be spot on or else that stuff will get creamed.

My personal favorite. two straight fastballs away and then a back up curve ball to same side hitters and to opposite side hitters a back foot curveball

Priceless: That’s awesome…

Pustulio: I try to let him know which ones I think would get creamed and which ones are just nasty as all get out. I also try to tell him if his release point is off, if there’s too much spin or which direction he needs to try and work to. Then he’ll mix in a fastball or a spike slider out of nowhere and I get hit in the shin :wink:

I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, so I had to go with my extensive repertoire of snake jazz. As a result, I would come up with different pitch sequences, depending on the kind of batter I had to face. For example: One day I had to come into the game in the seventh inning to rescue our starting pitcher who had developed a nasty blister on his pitching hand and subsequently had to leave the game. The scenario: bases loaded, one out, our lead had been cut from 6-0 to 6-4, and a pinch-hitter was coming to bat. This guy was batting for the other team’s second baseman and would stay in the game. I had never seen him before, but I had a hunch, and so I called my catcher out to the mound and told him to call for the slider, nothing else. I got that batter on three sliders, the third one crossfired, and the stupid never took the bat off his shoulder—just stood there and went “duh.” The next batter was another story; he was their leadoff man and would go after the first pitch no matter where it was, and he was looking to lose the ball in the stands. Okay. So I fed him my built-in curve ball—the one that had come attached to my sidearm delivery—and he swung and fouled it off. Strike one. Next, I gave him a knuckle-curve—my second-best pitch—and he missed that one by a mile. Strike two. Now—
I decided to “waste” a pitch, just to see how he would react, and the guy didn’t move. I thought, is he looking for a fast ball? Well, no way was he going to get one from me, because I didn’t have one, and I crossfired a slider which he swung at and missed so badly that he lost his balance and fell over on his tush with his arms and legs up in the air like some overturned bug! Strike three, side retired. In the bottom of the inning we got our three runs back, so we were leading 9-4, and I pitched two more hitless innings, and that was that
That was one such. I had an extensive arsenal of breaking stuff, and I could make all sorts of combinations with it; my “out” pitch was that slider, and I could throw it in the usual way or crossfire it. When one doesn’t have a fast ball, one has to improvise, to come up with all sorts of combinations, and I did that. :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:

climb the ladder!!!

That is so awesome. I knew I could count on Zita for a great post.

Did you have any particular set of two or three breaking pitches and/or locations that worked exceedingly well or that you favored more than others, or was it always kind of a fly by the seat of your pants situation in which all of your pitches complimented each other? I’m sure the hitter you faced played a large part in the process as well as the amount of outs and men on base. But in the case of the hitter you’d never faced before, what helped you make the decision to throw three straight sliders? I know you mentioned a hunch but let’s say it happened again with a hitter you weren’t familiar with. Do you think you’d have the same type of hunch? In other words, was three straight sliders a kind of formula for a situation like that because it was your best pitch? Did you have a pitch combo for that same bases loaded one out scenario with which you attempted to get the hitter to ground into a DP if you knew the hitter well and that he was prone to do that if fed the right pitches?

God I love baseball…

What an awesome insight into the game within the game aspect of our sport that makes it the best on the planet or universe for that matter.

Every pitch regardless of being a set up or your put-a-way, will be a lot easier to reason out by the batter’s posture - especially the arms.

Now there are two many variations to elaborate on here, but take for instance the batter below, with the very high front arm posture.

Notice how his vision is semi-blocked by his forearm. When the batter elects to hold the front arm up and high, he’s blocking off the inside of the plate and the outside of the lower end of the strike zone.


(1) fastball on the inside
(2) bat breaking slider down and away
(3) fastball on the outside corner - just at knee cap level.

Coach B.


That is just so cool. I’m totally self taught so I’ve never read or had anyone instruct me to approach hitters like that. You’ve just helped me to understand something that seems simple and fairly obvious after it’s been pointed out but that I’ve never even heard of. Is this a common approach that pitching coaches instruct their apprentices to take or is this some awesome secret Coach Baker strategy? Either way, I’m seriously just blown away by that. I definitely have a new perspective on things and would like to know more. You mentioned for obvious reasons that there are too many variations on pitching to a batting stance’s weakness. Where could I read up on different ways to pitch to different types of batting stances?

Thanks a ton for that Coach, that is an awesome new piece of the pitching puzzle for me.

Me too. I’m absolutely nuts about the game.
The slider was indeed my best pitch, and that was the one I would go to when I had to go for the strikeout. Depending on the hitter’s proclivities, I would either come at him with nothing but sliders, or I would set him up with a couple of other pitches like the knuckle-curve—my second-best. (Incidentally, the word got around about Stan Musial that you could get him out with the slider, so National League pitchers fed him nothing but, and he would pop up.) I had another variation of the slider—the “slip” pitch, which I learned from Ed Lopat back in 1953; this was a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, and I had fun using different knuckleball grips—two-finger, three-finger, different speeds. And of course, I crossfired everything, and this fact was not lost on Mr. Lopat. One day he was helping me with my circle change, and he said to me, “I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw.” Of course, being a natural sidearmer…
And I had a whole shelf full of assorted changeups I could and did use, and the whole idea was to set the batter up for old Filthy McNasty (I had given my slider that nickname, after a character in a W.C. Fields movie, because that was exactly what it was). You know, you can have one heck of a good time messing around with the hitters, discombooberating them and screwing up their timing and their thinking. So I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of—so what? I threw everything else…and one day I wound up with an 81MPH four-seamer which Mr. Lopat told me was, for a finesse pitcher such as me, a fast ball. Whaddayaknow… :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:

Was your slider and variations there of effective for getting ground outs too?

If not, did you have a particular pitch for that?

BTW great story… Do you have kids and/or grandkids? If they’re also fans of the game, I bet they love hearing tales from your glory days. I know I would.

I was mainly a strikeout pitcher, but I could also get the ground balls. I remember Ed Lopat telling me, “You have some good fielders behind you. Let them do some of the work. Let them get a few outs for you now and then.” And old Filthy McNasty and variations thereof served admirably as my all-purpose out pitch—because I was one of those infuriating, exasperating sidearmers who would crossfire everything, I could put it where I wanted it to go, and if the batters could get a piece of it they would hit it on the ground, right at some infielder. Oh, I would give up a base hit now and then, but nothing came of it; either the runner was left stranded at first base or I could induce a nice juicy double play. Very rarely did I get a fly-ball out, and it was usually either a can of corn or a popup.
I recall the day when I was scheduled to start a game—it was a Saturday afternoon—and I had been warming up when suddenly our second baseman came running up to me and said excitedly, “Hey, guess what! You have a nickname!” I asked him what it was, and he said “The Exterminator! You are The Exterminator! Did you know they’re calling you that all over the league?” We were one of six teams in a more-or-less semipro league in the Bronx, and our second baseman went on to tell me that the other teams hated to face me because I was just killing them! And until I was forced to stop playing because my work schedule had caught up with me and I lost my free weekends, I was henceforth and forever “The Exterminator”.
I have a younger sister in Massachusetts (a Yankee fan in Red Sox territory), a niece and a nephew in California and New York respectively, both grown and making out all right. I myself am 74 and I don’t care who knows it, and all these decades I’ve been crazy in love with the game. And now I have a chance to share my knowledge with others. :slight_smile: 8)

Baseball skills transfer over so well to become life skills. I think that’s evident in the wisdom that some of the people like you exhibit at this website. What a gift to be able to not only receive but also hand down that wisdom. If the great game of baseball isn’t directly responsible for teaching life lessons to generation after generation, It certainly facilitates it.

Just profound. :shock:

Below is a picture supporting a post I made a while ago. It shows some of the common tendencies of hitters with the basic arm positions that you’ll face. Other arm positions will, of course, require a bit of tweaking your pitch location and pitch selection - but, this is only a fundamental starting point for study. Batters with a very active torso that turns aggressively as they swing, batters at the front of the batting order - middle - end, and all kinds of other body languages will alter these diagrams. Like I said, this is a fundamental starting point.

The HOT locations are places were the batter has the best effectiveness with the swing of the bat

As you read and think about each batting posture, stop and visualize how you would swing the bat and what area of confidence your bat covers. Then think as a pitcher on how to attack that batting posture.

There are other considerations that deal with foot placement in the batter’s box and the bat’s swipe path. The bat’s swipe path has more to do with the horizontal area of coverage as the bat is swung, and thus, suggests a different approach for pitch selection. I’ll post that - those, considerations later.

Coach B.

And a huge family here on LTP that sure appreciates you, starting with Steven, Roger and I! :wink: You just tell people you’re 74 so they’ll quit trying to date you 8)
Zita, we’ll have to get some of the Florida kids who post here and meet all up over in your area and watch some spring training or a Rays game. Maybe if Dino makes it down this spring.

Memo to CSamuel: You were asking about ways to determine how to pitch to certain hitters. Coach B. posted an interesting diagram, but that’s only the beginning. Let me tell you what Ed Lopat (and what an incredible pitching coach he was!) said to me about just that subject when he was talking about strategic pitching. He said, and I quote: “You figure out what they’re looking for—and you don’t give it to them. The hard part is figuring out what they’re looking for. For example: you’re pitching in the seventh inning. The batter coming up is a guy you’ve faced before, and you’ve gotten him out twice. But now it’s his third time at bat. Watch him. Is he doing anything different? Has he changed his position in the batter’s box? Moved further forward, or further back? Is he choking up on the bat as if to go to the opposite field—or is he doing something that indicates he might bunt? Is he shifting his feet? And what about his swing? Does he uppercut or chop down at the pitch? Is he patient, or does he go after the first pitch, no matter where it is? Does he start to swing and then hold up? Even the slightest movement, the merest twitch, may indicate that he’s looking for a particular pitch…” Lopat was one of the greatest strategic pitchers in the history of the game, and he was telling me what he knew. It’s particularly important if one doesn’t have a fast ball worthy of the name. He didn’t have one, and he knew I didn’t, and so he took this approach. (No wonder the Cleveland Indians were so afraid of him! He specialized in beating them to a pulp, which he did to the tune of a 40-13 lifetime record.) :slight_smile: 8)

There is no other sport on earth that has this kind of complex game within the game aspect. It especially applies to pitching. That’s one of the big reasons that pitching is referred to as a craft… and it is. Believe me I know the true definition of the word “craft” due to the fact that I’ve been a carpenter since I was old enough to use tools. Pitching absolutely is a craft, it fits that term to a tee. Just check out that awesome diagram above for the evidence of that. It reminds me of a template or something.

Thanks a ton for that Coach B. I’ve got a nice jumping off point now to get into examining that. I’m going to save it to a special folder for that type of stuff for continued digestion.

And thanks again Zita for your legendary insights. Having someone to pass on that knowledge makes it that much easier for someone like me who learns a lot on their own to know what to look for.

perry husband has a pitching philosophy along the lines of coach baker’s diagram (which i am jealous of because it is wonderful). might check out husband’s work too, it makes sense to pitch along the diagonal running from up and in to down and away.

the gibson/reggie jackson book has some excellent thoughts on how to pitch people. i listen to hall of famers