Master of the Split Finger

Watch the video Masahiro Tanaka and you’ll witness a master at work with the split-finger.

Agree… we’ve got a terrific clip of him in the “Video Clips” section of this forum. Just hope he can stay healthy this season.

So of course this then begs the question who had the best splitty in the game?


You really think no one has had a better one then him? Nomo, Rocket, Schill, Scott?

Take note on Masahiro Tanaka’s follow through. Notice how he stays with the pitch all the way after his release. See how he goes down the mound deliberately and releases that split finger pitch just above the cap. A master at work in his craft.

What makes the split finger so effective is using the batter’s recognition - in front of the plate as a commitment location to start and finish his swing. A good… no a great split finger pitcher recognizes this recognition zone of a batter and tailors his split finger to draw that batter in … look… convince… start the swing… but can’t articulate the end results.

I love the way this batter just comes apart after the swing with that … " you gotta be #@! kidding me*!" I live for moments like that, I mean I savor this Kodak moment like good gravy with prime rib. What’s even better is the message that goes back with the batter into his dugout. … " this kid is good… I mean real good. As a coach, I’d take special note of anyone who kind of gives that Billy Martin stare into space… thinking it over… oh yeah… gotta drain the emotion out of that guy… gotta.

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Im wondering how late the break starts on that pitch.
Watching Riveras’ cut FB it was of course how late the break occurred that made it so impossible not a big break. Sort of similar thing here I think. The batter certainly is fooled, but, that has to be some late break.
I want some software or something tracks pitch break in relation to the distance from the plate.

I’d like to see a fastball to compare it with

The Split Finger Pitch
The split finger pitch is, in my opinion, a pitch that stands alone among the family of pitches. It’s kind of like a fastball – but not, it’s kind of like a breaking pitch – but not, it’s kind of like a forkball – but not. Therefore, the split finger pitch is not a pitch that can be measured against something with a same-mo same-mo point counterpoint.

To complicate the analysis, this pitch is unique to every pitcher that throws it. Even at that, when the pitch goes wrong it still looks like a deliberate split finger, but with a different attitude to it – flight, trajectory, rotation, and that stuff. A pitching coach that works closely with a pitcher that has that pitch in his inventory, can always spot that point of “oops”.

Therefore, a true split finger fastball (as it’s called) is really not a fastball, per say, although it has many of the characteristics in the fastball family. The grip and release is its marque, and that varies widely with each pitcher’s physique – not that other pitches are immune from the same remark.

This pitch is so workable by someone that understands how to grip and release this little gem, that all kinds of physiques and pitching styles can make quick work of a batting order. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, even when not everything that goes behind the execution comes off like clockwork, somehow it’s still a nasty thing to deal with for everyone 60’ 6” down range – batter, catcher, and even the umpire. And as I mentioned in my original post, a pitcher that understands a batter’s recognition zone can tailor this pitch’s movement to fit the situation. For example, usually the top of the batting order 1,2,3,4 all have incoming recognition zones of an incoming pitch, well out in front of them. Hence they tend to rely on meeting that pitch with the bat out in front of the leading hip. Batters that are lower in the batting order tend to make contact closer to center of their body - hence a slower recognition of the incoming speed and location of a pitch. Again, a great split finger pitch has that “tease” and “come and get me” factor that really works ideal when a man has that working for him just right.

I know this doesn’t address the posts made prior to this one, but the fact is, the split finger is a tricky little rascal to pitch, hit, catch, call – strike or ball, and explain.