It’s the end of the fifth inning and your club just came off the base path due to one of your teammates hitting into a double play. As you come out of the dugout you notice your shortstop limping slightly as he goes into the dugout to get his glove then takes his spot on the infield. His limping was due to a sprain he incurred while trying to beat out the double play. But, he says he’s fine and the coaches decide to leave him in the game. As the infield tosses the ball around during your warm up, you see that his range of movement is limited by this injury.
Here’s your dilemma:
1.) You know the apposing team’s bench is not blind – in fact they spot the weakness in your infield’s defense immediately.
2.) You’ve gone five innings against this batting order and their good, — I mean real good. Their patient, deliberate and the entire order are peppered with power and contact hitters.
3.) You’ve only had three strike outs against these guys – all the rest have been put away with fielding plays. Sixty (60) percent of those fielding plays have been 1-2-6-3 !
4.) The batter your now facing looks directly at your limping shortstop and you know he’s thinking to himself….” Get ready little man – you’re going to be scooping dirt !”
5.) You don’t see anyone in your club’s bullpen – and why should there be, your pitch count is low, you seem to be in command of things.
6.) As luck would have it, every batter that your about to face is right handed and aggressive. These are the same guys who –when they saw your shortstop limping, started a dugout list to see who was going to break their club’s all time record for the most consecutive hits in one
Your thinking…”maybe I can make it to the parking lot…if I could just hop that eight foot fence”, but no… you’ve got to focus on the game.
Situations like this are common – more so than you think. As pitchers, you’ve got to examine your options with respect to fielding support. When there is a weak spot in your defensive posture on the field you’ve got to PITCH AROUND THAT WEAKNESS!!!
So, as you work on your repertoire (pitch selection), consider how each pitch can and will be hit – and wear that hit will go. The PROBABILITY of a pitch being hit for a fly ball, a line drive grounder, to left field, right field, center, all depends on your pitch and the characteristics of each batter’s stance -hand position – body language… making contact with that pitch.
During this off season, try and watch as much baseball video of the last season as you can. Take note of each batter’s style and the resulting hit based on what was delivered. Even better yet, start a NOTEBOOK of your observations. This will be invaluable to you next season. In fact, if you see enough of one particular style of batter – and a pitch or combination of pitches that work well against that kind of batter, then you’ll know what to pull out of your bag of tricks. You’ll leave less to guess work and more to skill.