Movement isn't everything!


#1

Most pitchers think “big movement” is everything, that a big breaking curve ball or slider will make hitters look bad. The issue is that the earlier the deviation from a standard tunnel, the easier it will be to recognize that it is a different pitch, and it gives the hitter more adjustability.

Or, put simply… remember this guy?


#2

Right you are, Kyle.
Consider the knuckle-curve. This is a pitch that starts out coming in there like a fastball and then suddenly drops like a glass hitting the floor and shattering into little tiny bits. Or the slider. Its break isn’t a big one, but it can be very sharp indeed. I threw both these pitches—the slider was my best one, and the knuckle-curve my second-best—and neither had a big break, but it was a sharp, last-minute one, and you should have heard the batters grunt and groan and squeal as they swung and missed and lost their balance and fell over on the tush with arms and legs up in the air! Then contrast that with the big 12-6 curveball—the fact that it does have a big break makes it easier for the batter to set himself for that pitch.
I also used to throw a “slip” pitch. There are actually two versions of it; the first was a sort of variation of the palm ball, while the second—the one I knew—was a hard slider thrown with a knuckleball grip. I will never forget the first time I uncorked that one in a game; the batters were cursing a blue streak, not only blue murder but also arson, first-degree burglary, armed robbery, grand larceny breaking pitch, and an whole compendium of class-A felonies, because they couldn’t hit that pitch for sour apples! I had learned that one from Eddie Lopat, who told me “Get a knuckleball grip and throw the slider with it” and “You’ll know what to do with it.” Nice pitch indeed, and because I was an honest-to-gosh sidearmer who used the crossfire a lot I added to my collection of strikeouts!
Yup, I agree 100%—it’s not so much the size of the break of the pitch as its location. 8) :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:


#3

I absolutely agree. Nice post Kyle.
The knuckle curve and slider, in my opinion, are better out pitches than the big looping curve ball. That being said there is a place for the get me over looper.
I’ve seen HSV hitters time the looping curve ball over and over. Especially in a hitters count.


#4

Nice stuff Kyle


#5

Command is key. The ability to throw any pitch in any count makes it tough to hit. Lack of command limits a pitcher’s options and tips the scales toward the hitter. If a pitcher wants to survive multiple times through a batting order, he needs more than straight heat or more than a big breaking pitch.


#6

Coach Paul, you can say that again!
I have seen more pitchers than you can shake a bat at—the ones who have electric stuff but can’t find the plate—the ones who have a couple of good pitches but don’t know what to do with them—and they all have one thing in common: lack of command AND control! Some of them don’t even know how to throw, let alone pitch, and that is one thing that has pitching coaches tearing their hair out by the roots, assuming they have hair.
One particularly glaring example comes to mind here. Do you remember the 1996 World Series? Of course you do. It was the fourth game. The Yankees had been behind 6-0, but then they started climbing back; they scored three runs in the sixth inning, and now they were in the eighth, behind 6-3. The Braves had sent in their closer, Mark Wohlers to pitch. Not a great closer—nowhere near Mariano Rivera or even Trevor Hoffman, but a very good one. But that guy ran into trouble right from the start, and it was his lack of command that did him in. And that lack of command evidenced itself when he had to face Jim Leyritz, who had come into the game in the sixth inning to catch.
Leyritz had a reputation as an extremely dangerous hitter who could change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. So what did Mark Wohlers do? He started off with his best pitch, a 98-mile-an-hour fastball—and Leyritz was right on it, and he fouled it off, a hard line drive at that. And the pitcher suddenly got this LOOK on his face—surprise and doubt, wondering if he could get the batter out with that pitch. He went to his second-best pitch, a curveball, and no dice, the batter was taking. Yet another one, same result. 2-1. Wohlers went back to that fastball, and again Leyritz fouled it off. Now he knew he would never be able to get Leyritz out, so he went to his third best pitch, a slider—and yet another foul ball, this time down the first-base line. And then the beleaguered closer hung one, a slider up and in, and Leyritz didn’t miss that one; he swung and drilled it over the left-field wall, and I will never forget the announcer’s scream: "Back at the track—at the wall—WE ARE TIED!"
Nobody had thought to tell Wohlers that if you’re going to get beat you get beat with your best pitch, not your third best. Fact is, the guy just didn’t have the necessary command of any of his pitches, and he was never the same after that.
The Yankees went on to win that game in the tenth, 8-6.
So you see just how essential it is to have command of your pitches—and I mean all of them. :baseballpitcher: