Anyone have any ideas on how to work on getting the feel for my offspeed pitches again, my slider was not what it usually is today, not having a sharp break or fooling any hitters…Right now basically im relying on ovewpowering hitters and thats not what its all about
Wow! This is the first I’ve ever heard about this situation. Usually it’s the other way around—pitchers trying to increase their velocity and complaining that the only thing that’s working for them is their offspeed stuff. But here you are, with the reverse—you can’t get those offspeed pitches to work for you. So I have a question—two questions, in fact.
First, when did this start? And second, what were you doing that caused your breaking stuff to go into hiding and refuse to come out? :?:
Well, my velocity is fine how it is…Its just that in this summer league that I am in, my velocity is average to them since its mostly college boys I am facing. I had a terrible outing today, only lasting a 1/3 inning giving up 4 earned runs in one Hit, 4 hit batters, 2 walks, and one wild pitch. What cause this was just loss of control of all my pitches, and I was just not mentally there today for a reason that is stupid. Its been the past few outings that I felt my off speed was not there, that all I have is a moving fastball with velocity, that at this level they can catch up to if its all they see and I get behind in counts and sit on it. I usually throw a slider, Slider Fastball pitcher gets it done in HS, but this college summer league its a little different. Lately I have been trying to incorporate a change up but it is not consistent at all, and I’m trying to learn a true 12-6 Curveball.
But its been lately that I dont find consistency in my slider, and I cant throw it for strikes when I want it to, or throw it in the dirt when I want it to. It doesnt seem like it has that sharp break. It seems right now like the only pitch I have mastered is my fastball, (not in todays outing) . My off speed I cant throw where I want it, when I want it.
Thats my problem right now in my opinion.
Okay. Let me share with you a few things I learned long ago from a guy who was one of the finest pitching coaches anyone could ever hope to work with—Ed Lopat, a key member of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation from 1948 through 1954. (And after all these decades I still remember everything I learned from him.)
First, about changeups. He once told me that just about any pitch can be turned into a nice changeup, and he demonstrated several such for me and had me try them for myself. It all has to do with different grips, how loosely or how tightly one grips the ball. Example: the palm ball, which was the first change I picked up. For this you grip the ball with all four fingers on top and the thumb underneath, and you grip it well back in the palm of your hand (hence the name)—but not too tightly, because you don’t want to squeeze the juice out of the ball! You can change the speed by loosening up or holding the ball a little further forward in your hand—but remember, as with all such pitches, you have to throw it with the same arm motion and the same arm speed as for the fastball, because one thing you don’t want to do is telegraph the pitch.
Example: the circle change. For this, you have your thumb and index finger on one side of the ball, forming a circle, and the other three fingers on top (or the middle and ring finger on top and the pinky on the other side of the ball). If your hand isn’t large enough to form the complete circle you can use a backwards “c” on the side of the ball. Again, you can change speeds by tightening or loosening the grip.
Then, there are several variations of other pitches. The knuckle-curve, for instance. Basically, you use a knuckleball grip (and there are several of those to choose from), either two- or three-finger, and for variety you can have the index or middle finger extended. And you throw the curve ball with this grip. The pitch looks as if it were coming in there like an ordinary fast ball, but as it reaches the plate it drops like a glass hitting the floor.
A word about the slider—something I know quite a bit about because it was my best pitch, the one I could go to when I had to go for the strikeout. There really isn’t anything complicated about it, by the way; I recall when I asked Mr. Lopat about the pitch. He drew me aside and showed me how to throw it, and what he said was simply this: “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” Now, I threw my curve with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap, so it was no problem to simply ease up on it, especially because I was a natural sidearmer who threw everything that way. He showed me the grip he used for this pitch—it was very much off-center, with the index and middle fingers very close together and the middle finger just touching one seam. All I needed to do was turn it over as I delivered the pitch. And he told me about a very interesting variation of it using a knuckleball grip with the index and middle fingers very close together—that’s more of a medium-speed pitch. He called it a “slip pitch”; what opposing batters called it I don’t dare print it here because I’d blow up the computer!
If you have a large enough hand you might also investigate the split-finger pitch, which is a faster version of the forkball but is also capable of being thrown at different speeds. You grip the ball with the index and middle fingers just off the seams, unlike the forkball which calls for actually gripping the ball between the fingers—the latter not advisable unless you have a King Kong-sized paw, because it puts a terrific strain on the fingers, the hand, the elbow, the shoulder, whatever the heck you throw the ball with! And if you want a really slow pitch, try the eephus or blooper pitch which is a slow, high-arcing curve that can reach a height of 20 feet or so before descending.
These are just a few examples of off-speed pitches you can experiment with. Find what’s comfortable for you—just one or two of these pitches will suffice. And above all, relax. You’ll be all right, and eventually you’ll be able to re-introduce the slower stuff back into your repertoire. The fast ball will take care of itself. Oh yeah—a good idea is to get a catcher you can work with while you’re having a good time messing around with all that snake-jazz! 8)
what about the breaking pitches though?
I do believe I covered some of the breaking pitches…the slider and the knuckle-curve in particular. The regular curveball seems not to be a problem for you if you’re throwing it at fastball speed or near it. To slow that one down, just loosen up on the grip, that’s easy enough I got the impression that what you needed was some information about various changeups, some of which are definitely breaking pitches but quite a bit slower. What I wanted to point out that you absolutely have to throw everything, breaking pitch or no, with the same arm motion and the same arm speed as you would the fast ball, because one thing you don’t want to do is telegraph your pitches.
I remember when Whitey Ford first came up to the Yankees in 1950. He started one game, and the opposition was eating him up, turning every pitch he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. Finally, in the fifth inning tommy henrich, who was playing first base, came running out to the mound and said to him, “Hey, Whitey, that first-base coach is calling every pitch you’re throwing!” This was the first indication to Mr. Ford that he was telegraphing his pitches. The next day pitching coach Jim Turner and fellow pitcher Ed Lopat took him into the bullpen and had him throw from the stretch, because that was when the problem was occurring. And Lopat spotted the problem immediately: Ford, all unawares, had been positioning his hand one way for a fast ball and another way for a curve, and it was no trouble for the opposing first-base coach to pick up on that and relay the information to the hitter. Lopat took Ford aside, told him quietly what he had been doing wrong, and worked with him to correct the problem.
I also watched a game this afternoon—Blue Jays vs. Tigers—and I saw a similar situation early in the game. Justin Verlander was pitching for the Tigers, and in the first two innings all he was throwing was that fast ball; granted, he has a terrific one, often exceeding 100 miles an hour, but the Blue Jays were belting it all over Comerica Park. The pitching coach had to come out and tell him to mix up his pitches more. When Verlander started doing that he was able to shut down Toronto for the remainder of the eight innings he pitched, and Jose Valverde came in to nail down the save. The point is, you need to mix up your pitches, and a good place to start is by refining the curve ball and adding, perhaps, a slider or a knuckle-curve, both of which are excellent breaking pitches.
You now know how to do this, so go ahead, and take it easy, and just think about expanding your arsenal again.
I would guess that maybe you aren’t taking enough off the pitch, need 10 mph off the fast ball to make a good change. Curve ball that moves too fast might not have the chance to break yet so its just a slower straight pitch. Like it was said before hold the ball looser, maybe you are working too hard on making everything look like the fastball that you end up pretty much just throwing a little slower fastball.