I just thought I’d throw this out there because I’ve had much success with it.
To me, keeping the hitter off balance, uncomfortable, and guessing wrong are very important to successful pitching.
How many of you have watched youth pitchers get 0-2 on a hitter and predictably throw a breaking ball or change up? I saw this 10 times in one game this summer in an all-star tournament!
It’s very successful because, at that age, most hitters lunge at the ball and can’t hit anything off speed after timing up the fastball. It gets less effective, however, as you move up the ranks and hitters stop drifting forward-- especially if pitchers have a habit of going to the breaking ball with two strikes.
If you ask hitters what they are looking for 0-2 and most will say breaking ball or change up if they got into the hole via a fastball.
One of many successful things to do is employ a “shake your head” sign a couple of times and call the pitch the batter was originally looking for. The hitter was expecting breaking ball or change and will now be thinking fastball. The pitcher throws a slider or change, for example.
The challenging part is having a catcher that knows the pitches a hitter will be anticipating in a given count after a particular sequence. The last thing a pitcher wants to see being dropped for a sign 0-2 when he wants to throw a change or curve is the sign for a change or a curve :x
He won’t be able to shake it off unless he ends up shaking off every pitch in his arsenal before the catcher makes it back to the curve sign. By then, the hitter has asked for time and stepped out.
Shake sign, shake sign, desired pitch sign is an efficient sequence that gets the hitter thinking fastball.
Of course there are many ways to deceive a hitter. This is only one way, but it has worked for me in many situations. It often allowed me to throw a pitch that was working for me, even when it was the pitch the hitter was originally expecting.