Is this realistic?

Is it realistic to ask pitchers to pitch to contact (a technique to lower pitch counts) instead of going for the strike out?

Roger brought up an excellent point in another post that pitching to contact, or throwing it so that the hitter puts the ball in play, is an effective way to reduce 20-30 pitch innings. Totally agree! But it’s tough to teach to many pitchers, myself included. I wanted that K baby!!

What do you think/do/teach/practice?

Good question Steven.

First, however, pitching to contact isn’t just a technique for lowering pitch counts. You’ve heard of situational hitting, right? How about situational pitching? For example, there are times when a double play is what’s needed to get out of an inning. Two K’s would obviously work but supposed the batter is a contact hitter who rarely strikes out. In that situation, pitching to contact to induce a double play would be a logical tactic.

But back to the topic of teaching “pitch to contact”. I think this topic is very dependent on the age of the pitcher you’re talking about. With really young pitchers, “pitch to contact” really manifests itself as just throwing strikes and not giving up walks. (Hitters are weak so there’s a good chance that a strike thrown anywhere over the plate will produce a K anyways.) As the kids get older, “pitch to contact” starts to take on elements of more precise control - painting the corners and changing speeds to get hitters to swing at pitchers’ pitches. Older still and situational pitching comes into the picture along with the defense’s ability to execute the induced play.

i love the k’s and hate when people hit my pitch, regardless if its an out. i usually try painting corners if i pitch to contact. when im going for k’s im in and outa strike zone. lower pitch counts good but i like watchin the batter take that long walk back to the bench.

Hi Steve,

I think its gotta change with the guy. If the guy is question has a great fastball(high velocity, great movement, good location) and a Hammer Curve thats lights out, why make him pitch to contact? On the other hand, if the guy throws 3/4’s, sinks his fastball and gets some downward break on his slider, this guy is prime territory for pitch to contact. Furthermore, I think that you need both on your pitching staff, and it depends on whose perspective your looking at it from:The Pitchers, Managers, General Manager-it makes a huge difference!

Lets take a good big league example:My Favorite team the Cincinnati Reds. Their starting 5:

Aaron Harang-power pitcher
Edison Volquez-Power pitcher
Bronson Arroyo-contact Pitcher
Johnny Cueto-power pitcher
Micah Owings-contact pitcher

Proviso’s: They play in Great American Band Box (Ball Park)-the ball flies out of there like its launched form the space shuttle, so the profile of the pitchers is limited-either you make them miss the bat or make them hit ground balls-anything else is subject to long ball barrages.

The problem with power pitchers is they tend to break more than the pitch to contact guys, they throw more pitches and put more into each particular pitch. The guys that PTC throw less pitches and are gentler on their bodies. So if the PTC guy can get ground balls then he works in GABP. Bronson Arroyo is not a very good fit however, and its better to pitch him away from GABP becuase of his penchant to give up fly balls. Now if this was Chavez Ravine fine, but its not.

The Reds are encountering problems, Volquez is on the 15 days disabled, Harang has been up and down, and Owings is about to be dropped out of the rotation to make room for Matt Maloney .

If you are Walt Jocketty, you need a guy to give you some short games because of injuries, not only to your pitching staff, but other positions as well: Votto (out), Encarnacion (out) Phillips (playing hurt) thats a lot of production out.

The more I write, the more I think this is a thesis study, LOL, Ian.

First, however, pitching to contact isn’t just a technique for lowering pitch counts. You’ve heard of situational hitting, right? How about situational pitching? For example, there are times when a double play is what’s needed to get out of an inning. Two K’s would obviously work but supposed the batter is a contact hitter who rarely strikes out. In that situation, pitching to contact to induce a double play would be a logical tactic.[/quote]

Totally agree. In haste when making the post, I left out that major component of pitching to contact. We worked on that quite a bit, actually in college and pro ball depending on where the infield was playing, our defensive strategy, etc.

The mentality, though, is what intrigues me … Ian, do I hear a treatise coming?? :slight_smile:

I agree.

Well you know I’m gonna say more than that :lol:
First I don’t think pitching to contact and being a strike out pitcher are mutually exclusive (The Great Greg always comes to mind…3000+ ks…and still threw to contact).
This is how I was taught to do it (15-18 yr olds and above…before that it’s simple throw a high % of strikes)…it may vary from great coach to fumpy hack (My category).
Consider…First 2 times through the order, you challenge with late movement (It’s why I preach the 2 seam as the best pitch for this…as it can both cut and sink) that starts in the zone and forces poor bat strike. 1st pitch strike is crucial, it forces the batter to not be able to lay off of stuff starting in the zone. It also is important to be unafraid to work inside particularly inside above the belt (Real hard to turn on that action and keep it fair). Starting out w/1st pitch strikes with your strength to their weakness and then working at the hands will generally (Even Maddux’s sinker got whacked on off days), keep the ball off of the sweet spot (It also opens up the outside corner for a k here and there), it will force them to swing in early counts or face an 0-2 wipe-out pitch. 3rd time through…at least for my son, he works that 4th pitch, for him the change. His arm action is identical to the fb and he’s already established command of the zone and the order has to honor that, so it is very typical for him to run a string of k’s through the end of the game and it starts an epidemic of ugly swings on crud in the dirt…cuts the heart out of even a really good hitting squad…bat discipline goes out the door.
So yes it is trainable, the pitcher has to be confident and fearless.
Man I could talk this stuff til my wife beats me with a stick :shock: to get away from the computer…or ball field…or anywhere else I get some poor schmuck to chat about it.

I think you also have to consider the batter., If he a tough guy to K and you know he is going to put the bat on the ball, you need to put it in a spot that puts it in your favor of getting an out.

There are certian batters you can go after and others you need to be careful with.

I see it happen all the time with Pujols being a Cardinal fan.

Ian—you ought to consider becoming a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)—we’re always looking for papers on all sorts of technical stuff, with all sorts of statistics, and you would be a prime candidate. This is certainly a prime subject for intellectual discussion and analysis. How about it?
As for me, when I played I would do both, depending on the hitters I had to face. As I said in an earlier post, Ed Lopat told me that I was a strikeout pitcher who could also get the ground balls, and so that was what I did. If I had come into the game in relief and there was a runner on base with less than two out, I would get the batter to hit one on the ground, right at one of the infielders—if I didn’t pick off the runner first! With two out I could go for the K, or get the guy to pop up. :slight_smile:

I pitch to contact - I have always done that even in little league. Most pitchers love the K - but I like walking out of the inning after throwing 7 or 8 pitches. That has happened a couple of times to me and it is a great feeling. My best pitch is a 2 seam fastball - no doubt about that.

My pitching coach teaches to pitch to contact and he really reinforces that location and finishing pitches are the most important thing for me to be concerned with. He has never worried much about my velocity - he does worry about changing delivery motion when I throw a curveball or changeup. He also says that sometimes I throw too good of a pitch for the 3rd strike - but right now I don’t have that good of command of my pitches to paint just outside of the corner like Maddux or Glavine.

I used to worry about umpires not calling the low strike - but most of the time - this doesn’t matter because the batter will swing at the pitch.

The only drawback to pitching to contact is getting the coach’s confidence. I have learned that most coaches like guys that throw hard. I don’t know why - but that has been my experience.

I’m not going to add much, just wanted to say how I’ve enjoyed reading about it.

Dinoson being a starting pitcher is a combo guy depending on the umpire’s strike zone and how deep the opposing team is with quality batters. He attacks the strike zone the first time through the lineup. Usually the batters are testing him to see if he’s in the zone or they can coax a walk. He’ll usually get four to six K’s just because he’s getting ahead in the count and they are not catching up to the fastball. Then they will start swinging at the first pitch and now he’ll make the adjustment and go for pitch to contact, the two seam inside and outside, hard breaking ball that looks like the four seam both which will induce groundballs all day long. I can’t count all the five - seven inning games I’ve seen where the ball doesn’t leave the infield.

Now if the umpire allows him to stretch the strikezone on the outside of the plate, there’s no way they’ll get the ball into the air and he’s going to be successful on strikeouts looking, too. He was very fortunate this year to have a lights out closer backing him up so pitch count was not as much a factor as previous years.

There is one thing that is constant…if you pitch to contact you better have good infielders.