Ok, I need to know, do I really need a change up?

My catcher and I have been over this a million times. We’ve decided that if I can throw a change that’s decently slower than my sinker yet faster than my curve, it’s worth working on. I just threw a bullpen and my change fit in that range but I couldn’t throw it with enough consistent accuracy and speed differential yet. I’d have to work on it. There were moments when it looked great and others when it was just a mediocre sinker. My catcher thinks I should work on my other five pitches, particularly my cut fastball. I’ve been using my big sweeping curve as my off speed pitch and he seems to think that’ll be good enough.

I need to know right now from the experts if it’s worth the effort so I can either work it in to my routine or move on without it for now, or maybe a third option that I’m not even seeing.


My advice to you would be to throw a change even with a curveball around the same speed. If the curve and change are the same speed and you give the hitters looks of both then its not hard to trick them. That being said the establishment of your fastball is necessary due to the purpose of the change. How do you grip it?

I use the circle change grip. I’m still trying to master pronation and have done a decent job with my sinker. It’s got the movement it’s supposed to when I can execute well. My fastball is improving with every session I throw. I’ve really started to bear down on my conditioning and its showing with my fastball’s improvement. That being said, it’s not what I would call overpowering.

Well I would try different grips and practice practice practice. Try just playing catch with it for 10 or 15 minutes while warming up. Its all about feel and throwing it the SAME!!! as your fastball.

Well, playing a ton of catch was how I developed all of my other pitches…

A few of the things I’ve been told I do very well are hide the ball and deliver pitches consistently the same way. These are a few “pros” of adding the change.

Thanx for the advice.

You can never have too many changeups. That was the case with me; I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of and so I had to develop an arsenal of snake-jazz—a lot of different breaking pitches. Ed Lopat told me that just about any pitch I threw could be turned into a nice changeup, and so I experimented with different grips and changed speeds. Some of them looked faster than they were, while a few were faster than they looked, and some of them…For example, there was the knuckle-curve, which I had picked up early on. That one looks like a fast ball until it gets near the plate and then it drops like a stone. And then there was one of my favorites, the “slip” pitch which is, at bottom, a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip—and when I would crossfire that one it would discombooberate the batters something fierce!
So…go ahead and experiment with a few, work around with them until you get what you want with them, and use them in games. :slight_smile: 8)

One of my absolute favorite baseball moments this year came while watching a Dodger game on TV. Randy Wolf was facing Brad Hawpe. I think he maybe threw him one fastball early on but none after that. Vin Scully said “…he’s just throwin’ him nothin’ but junk!” and oh yes I believe he struck him out.

I was hoping somebody could better explain this (regarding the split finger fast ball) to me:

When throwing this pitch, throw the palm-side wrist of the throwing-hand directly at the target while keeping your index and middle fingers extended upward. Your wrist should remain stiff.

This is from one of the articles on this website. I understand everything except the index and middle fingers extended upward part.

A splitter would put me at seven pitches (including the change). I feel like they could all be quite useful, however, seven pitches might be too much for me to work on right now.

Always a great pleasure to hear you guys’ (and gals’) words of wisdom and aside from mastering mechanical issues this is my conundrum at the moment.

First I ever heard of it. The guy who talked about those fingers extended upward probably found that this worked for him. But, as somebody once said, "what’s sauce for the goose isn’t necessarily sauce for the gander."
The split-finger fast ball is actually a first cousin to the forkball, and the grips for both these pitches are rather similar. The difference is that the forkball grip is more extreme—the index and middle finger are spread so widely apart that you’re practically gripping the ball between them, and unless you have a big paw and very long fingers you’re letting yourself in for a terrific strain on your arm. For the splitter you just spread your fingers so that they are just outside the seams, and that’s less stressful. As for keeping the wrist stiff, forget it. That’s for the knuckleball. You want to throw both those pitches with some wrist action—something like the knuckle-curve, perhaps?
I never threw either the forkball or the splitter, because I definitely did not have a huge paw and my fingers were just average. But the knuckle-curve had that last-minute drop, and it became my second-best pitch after the slider. 8)

Hey Zita,

Do you call it “snake jazz” because your stuff looks like a cobra dancing out of the little basket when the Indian guy plays the flute?

That’s what comes to my mind.

The term “snake jazz” simply means breaking pitches—curves, sliders, slurves, knuckle-curves, slip pitches, screwballs, you name it—and it has been around for a long time. A friend of mine, Dave Baldwin, who used to pitch in the American League, always called his stuff that, because he threw a lot of it. Interesting that you should liken it to a cobra coming out of the basket—some of those pitches can really bite. :slight_smile:


I learn somethin’ new everyday.

From the first time I read the term in one of your posts, that’s the image that immediately cropped up in my head. It’s a great metaphor. The guy plays the music or “snake jazz” the cobra starts curvin’ and dancin’ around and then it bites [the hitter]. That’s pretty awesome.

Hehe, well back to the topic. First, it is great that you are able to throw seven different pitches. But normally, you don’t need to throw seven pitches. At first, fastball, you need to throw it (yours is a sinker right?). Second pitch you should develop is not a curve, not a slider, not a split, it should be a changeup, you know why? Because you can fool most guys with a good changeup. It only has to look like your fastball (same arm speed, arm motion, arm slot). Look at Trevor Hoffman or Johan Santana. Okay, Trevor doesn’t throw the fastest fastball on earth, he throws below 90. But he has such a good changeup, that fools the batters, and also lets his fastball look faster.
Second reason for a changeup. Do you want to throw a curveball in the zone? You may hang it. And there’s a good quote from my hitting coach. “You hang it, we bang it”. Otherwise, the curveball is not really made for pitching it in the zone. A changeup is. You can fool batters IN the strikezone.
So work on your changeup, it’s a great pitch. Then I would concentrate on other pitches, but to get the most guys out, you need your fastball and a changeup. You might get week grounders instead of strikeouts, but does it matter? You are getting the guys out.

Very well put, I appreciate the advice more than you know.

Yes, I throw a four seam, sinker and cutter, all at different speeds. But I’m a big fan of Randy Wolf and the way he pitches “backwards” being able to throw a hook for a strike in a fastball count can really have hitters second and third guessing him, not knowing what’s coming next.

Having said that, you’re absolutely 100% correct those hooks get absolutely spanked on occasion and that’s why Randy Wolf is usually good for at least one solo job per outing.

I’ve always considered the change to be one the most advanced finesse type pitches which worried me that I wasn’t going to be effective with it. But if you think about it, the ratio of hanging curveballs that get crushed to change ups that are just mediocre fastballs without enough movement or speed differential that get crushed is probably pretty comparable.

I had already decided to work on a change after my last session. I was executing the pitch well enough to impress my catcher and win him over. Not that I needed his approval or anything, I just value his opinion.

So now it’s six pitches (the split isn’t for me) and three of them are fastballs. I think that’s a pretty good balance.
Thanx again for the very well put advice.

BTW no it doesn’t matter, an out is out no matter how you get it. I’m not big on FiP or other saber metric stats.

Ok, The deal has been sealed on this dilemma. Just got done with a session in which I threw about 40% four seams coupled with another 40% Cir-changes. I still a lot of practice, more practice and then after that more practice still. That being said, The changes that were executed well looked very nice from my view. My catcher said I was getting better on the speed differential aspect but still need a lot of work to get it closer to the speed of my curve. At least, that’s how he saw it from behind the dish (we don’t have radar guns or anything, we just eyeball everything.

It became very clear how, as said earlier in this thread, that a Cir Change close to my curve speed would make it easy to fool hitters.

In conclusion, yes I need a change up, I now love the change up and my sincere gratitude to all who participated in this thread to help me see from different angles and perspectives of you guys’ (and gals’) personal experience and expertise, the true value of putting in the effort to learn this pitch and become effective with it.

let me see if i have this straight. you throw 7 different pitches and you are considering adding the 8th. if you throw an 80 pitch bullpen 3 to 4 times per week, do you work on all pitches. that would mean a maximum of 10 pitches of each pitch during an 80 pitch bullpen. if you can perfect a pitch on that schedule, you are gifted. and all those pitches are not necessary. if they were, more big league pitchers than david cone would throw tons of pitches. name 5 pitchers that throw 5 or more pitches. there’s a reason why they don’t.

Miscommunication somewhere in the thread. Let me clarify:

Here is my repertoire:

  1. four seam
  2. cutter
  3. sinker

The purpose of the thread was to see if it was necessary for me to add a change when my curve is my off speed pitch of choice. (It’s real slow)
I was also considering a splitfinger which including the change (which btw I have added and starting working on quite a bit) would have been seven.

The split finger is not for me so add a change to the above list and that’s what I’m working with as of right now which would be six total pitches. However, It’ll take a lot more practice before I’m confident enough with the change. Also, you can almost count the sinker and cutter as one pitch since they’re two seam variations (at least mine are).

I highly value my catching partner’s opinion and he felt the curve was enough to meet my off speed needs. Consequently, the two of us have gone over the issue of adding a change many times. So adding you guys’ expertise into our talks was another motive behind the post. Another main reason for the post and my apprehension to adding the change was exactly what you mentioned. I was worried about trying to master too many pitches. This is the basic context for the topic question and most of my subsequent posts in the thread.


I normally am not a fan of so many pitches. As others have said that’s a lot to work on and master. However I will throw something out for your consideration.

All of your pitches, except your curveball, start- or should start- from basically the same position or release point or “tunnel”, however you want to look at it. This is good because it makes recognition difficult for the hitter.

The curve ball though typically starts and takes a different path from release than the other pitches thus making recognition easier for the hitter. This may freeze a hitter for a while but if this is your only off-speed pitch it makes it easier for the hitter to sit on your hard stuff, especially on days you can’t throw the curve for a strike.

I like a change-up, whether it be a circle, “c”, or split because it can be disguised easier than a curve. In other words its trajectory out of the hand looks more like your other pitches for the first 10’ or so.

Another thing- all your other pitches would be considered “hard stuff” so sequencing and location become an even bigger issue. With poor sequencing and location, and even though the gun says they’re different speeds, all those pitches have the potential to have the same effective velocity (or required reaction time) to the hitter- thus advantage hitter. With proper sequencing and location those pitches have the potential to have effective velocity spreads that will keep hitters off balance.

In another thread about setting up hitters I recommended looking into Perry Husband and his work called Effective Velocity. What I have explained above is just scratching the surface of what his work is about.

I don’t think you have too many pitches because the sinker and cutter are just 2 seam varients…so in essence you have 4 (With the change). Many places at the college level like that sort of capability/flexability with arsenal…UNF for example likes for their pitchers to have a curve and a slide piece (One day one works the other doesn’t…sometimes) Also, just because you have the capability to throw them doesn’t mean on a given day you’ll throw them all. My son for example, he’ll start a game with challenging guys in the zone with late movement (Sinker/cutter) to get grounders and as the line-up turns over he may resort to fb/cu to get some k’s and demoralize the enemy…he may not even break out his breaking stuff…or he may lean on the breaking stuff and attack another way. It depends on who he’s playing, how he’s feeling and what works in the pen before the game.
I say if you feel it, use it. A change is deadly as a weapon when used at the right time…or it can cause substantial neck pain from watchin it get jerked over the fence :wink: you seem on the right learning track with it right now…ride the pony…see what happens.

Yeah, that’s the plan for right now JD…

I’m a huge Dodger fan so I watch Kuroda pitch a lot. Dude has like eight or nine pitches he throws. However, problem with that is just what you said. I don’t I’ve ever seen fire off all of them. Consequently, sometimes he’s really good (one hitter, almost perfect game in 2008) and other times he’s just awful ('09 NLCS).

JP: I like what you said about the tunnels. I’ve been thinking about that alot and before I started practicing the change I was working on my curveball’s release point, trying to make it more deceptive.

Thanks for the expertise gentlemen, much appreciated.