Pitching Arsenal


#1

What do you think is the best way to decide what pitches a player will have in his repertoire. More specific do you think it’s a good idea for a pitcher to have two breaking balls that are similar like a curveball and a slider? Second part to this question is what age do you feel is a good age for a pitcher to begin throwing sliders?


#2

I would throw a curve ball before a slider. Sliders are tougher on the elbow because of the lack of pronation that happens after ball release.
It depends the age of the pitcher. I would always start with FB and Change. Everything should play off of the FB/Change Up. That is still the best combo in baseball. I still prefer the traditional FB/Change/Curveball mix. Having pitches of quality is more important than throwing a bunch of pitches. Generally when a guy says he throws 8 different pitches, it usually means they throw most of them badly.
My approach is get the FB/Change working well. Get solid command with both and hopefully a good spread in speeds with some movement on the Change. Then add the Curveball (or slider). Work that to where there is some command with the curve ball.
Once the pitcher has a solid three pitch mix I am looking to add something without having to make big changes. Adding a second curveball is what my son did. He flattened out his curve (used to be a big breaking curve, but, as he moved up it became an easy take for better hitters). He has gotten reasonably good at locating that flatter curveball on the outside corner to RHB. He will work in the bigger breaking ball to LHB. If FB velocity gets advanced enough (high 80s lets say) then I love adding a cut FB. My son will be working on this next summer. The reason is mechanically it is exactly the same as the normal FB. Just the grip is different. So, a cut FB gets some glove side run and adds another speed option (FB at 88, Cut FB at 84, Change at 77 for example). So, being able to throw FB, Cut FB, Change, Flat CB and Big CB gives a lot of variety and speed variations. They all come mechanically from the same place…FB/Change. Mechanics are the same, arm slot the same ect.
The thing to remember (to me at least) when looking at pitches that break is LATE break is more important than big break. As a pitcher faces better hitters getting late movement is huge. It leads to bad contact and swings and misses. The big loopy curveball that ends on the dirt that had guys swinging and missing in high school is often an easy take in college.
The actual type of pitch probably doesn’t matter as much as being able to throw it for strikes, being able to use it without fear in any count and having “quality” movement.
Try different pitches, record them on video from behind and see what pitch the pitcher likes best and takes too well. Pitches are a personal thing for pitchers.


#3

Good stuff, you actually answered another good topic as far as were the best place to record from. It’s tough to see break when your catching the ball and recording. Fearsome were/are you a coach or just former player?


#4

It is very hard to judge to timing of break. Hard on video that is slowed down even. I would really love to find some software that tracks ball flight (like the golf ball flight tracking stuff) that would record amount and timing of break…a ball broke a total of 2.5 inches starting at 44 feet from ball release, for example…no luck with that so far.
I was a pretty subpar baseball player. I moved on to basketball, football and rugby by the time I would have been playing high school varsity. I grew up around baseball however as my grandfather was a player in the Cardinals organization way back when.
I tore both my rotator cuffs working right around the time my son was getting into baseball. I learned a lot while trying to rehab my shoulder. While this was happening I was having a very difficult time finding any quality instruction for my son, so, I started reading, researching ect and took it on myself. I have several pitchers (and a golfer) I work with. Mostly college aged guys. For sure just a hobby/part time sort of thing, but, I enjoy it greatly. I mostly work with them on conditioning/training/velocity stuff.


#5

AND WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A FASTBALL TO SPEAK OF?
That was my situation, many moons ago. I realized that I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer, so I went in the other direction and became a snake-jazzer—a finesse pitcher, and a very good one. My best pitch, which I learned at age 16, was a slider with a sharp late break; my second-best pitch was a very good knuckle-curve also with a sharp late break; and I built my whole arsenal around those two pitches. Two things helped tremendously: first, I was a natural, true, honest-to-gosh sidearmer from the git-go, and second, I had the good fortune to work with one of the finest pitching coaches anyone would give is or her eyeteeth to work with, for almost four years. I pitched for some 22 years, never lost a game or blew a “save”, and I have lots of great memories to look back on.
By the way, the curveball and the slider are two different pitches altogether. The slider is actually closer to the fastball family of pitches, and should be considered as such. Mine topped at 86 miles an hour, much to my surprised, and I could use it as either a power pitch or a changeup


#6

I think this is extremely insightful, as you’ve always been, Zita.

While many pitchers are going to have a traditional arsenal of fastball/change/curve and be effective that way, I think it is important to note that if you happen to find a pitch that is absolutely filthy that you can definitely build everything else off of it, even if it is a breaking pitch.

I would advise most youngsters to begin by working on fastball change, to be able to develop that fastball, as that will more than likely carry you further than anything else if you are looking to break into the collegiate or professional ranks.

That being said, not everybody starts pitching young, and not everybody will fit that traditional mold. While I played baseball since I was young, I didn’t start pitching until I was in high school, and it was solely because I was so interested and intrigued in the knuckleball that one day my coach saw it and was like “woah” and started working with me on pitching. My fastball and pitching mechanics in general were very lacking and far behind my peers. But boy could I make a baseball flutter.

So I found that I could pitch throwing a lot of knuckleballs, with the fastball being my change of pace to blow by an unsuspecting batter who was expecting that slow fluttering knuck and had only seen that from me. It wasn’t particularly fast, but compared to my 55mph knuck, it sure looked fast. This would turn into a mind game of, when is the fastball coming? and get batters really on their toes.

I mixed a curve in now and then, but I built my whole style on a breaking pitch, the knuck. I wouldn’t advise everyone do that, in fact I’d advise against the knuck most of the time for youngsters. But Zita’s right, you can absolutely be effective without basing your repertoire on the good old fashioned fastball and change.

But if you don’t have anything to base off of yet, I would follow fearsomefour’s advise and roll with fastball/change above all else, and if you do find another niche with a less common pitch, don’t be afraid to base your style off of it or mix it in, whether it becomes a swing and miss pitch, a pitch to contact/strike throwing tool or a change of pace type of thing.