Pitching to contact

bringing this from another message board. might have already been discussed on here. if so let me know where the thread is.
what do you all think of the “pitching to contact” philosophy?

Steve, really good to see you post!!
You likely saw my take on it or at least what it was (Definition wise) on that other board. It will be interesting to see how LTP looks at it.

You want to pitch to contact but not to good contact, let the batter hit the ball on the ground or in the air, getting outs is what you’re there for and often times hitters will get themselves out if you just throw strikes, there are times when you might need a K like when there’s a runner on 3rd and nobody out or something like that but usually just try to get the outs if you rack up some Ks great but just go for getting outs.

In the words of Ed Lopat (what an incredible pitching coach he was):
“Get the ball over the plate and make them hit it. Make them go after YOUR pitch, what you WANT them to hit.” That, in essence, is pitching to contact—make them go after what you want them to hit. He told me that I could do it both ways—I was a strikeout pitcher, and I could also get batters to hit those ground balls at infielders. The fact that I was a sidearmer who used the crossfire extensively, who had a good arsenal of breaking stuff and who could put the ball where I wanted it to go, made it possible for me to work both ways.
And what a nice feeling it was, when I would face a very good low-ball hitter and climb the stairs with that guy, make him chase after a pitch out of the strike zone, and get him. Most pitchers are one or the other, but if you can do both…you’re going to win a lot of games. :slight_smile: 8)

Don’t like the mentality of “pitching to contact,” but getting a grounder to turn a double play or to keep the runners from advancing is an important part of the game of pitching!

I know, Steve. It sounds kind of lazybones, doesn’t it? But if need be, especially to get a double play, it’s a useful tool. :roll:

Depends on the pitcher…imo. Many young pitchers I see get into a habit of giving too much credit to the batter, and end up throwing too many pitches / walking hitters out of fear of being hit. You gotta trust your stuff, especially early in the count, and if somebody rocks you just make sure it doesnt come with runners on base - that didnt earn their way on.

I’ve always used the mentality of pitching to contact to help me throw more strikes. I think by telling yourself not to be afraid of contact you start to throw more strikes and you dont find yourself playing cat and mouse with the batter.

Well wrong board :lol: :lol: :lol:
Very ironic that this comes up on 3 major boards nearly simultaniously.
I think it mis-named, but a tremendous pitching strategy…I consider it to be the most intellectually mature approach to pitching, one that in one hand seems to fore go stats but trusts the integrity of the team. I think without 2 specific pitches in their degrees of variety the thought train wouldn’t exist. Those pitches being the 2 seammer with the sinker and cutter varients and the change (Preferrably sinking or dropping).
I think the hallmark is setting up pitches with early strikes that display late movement, attacking the batter in the zone in locations that make solid bat strike impossible or unless your name is Vlad or Albert impossible. I don’t believe that this strategy precludes strike outs, I believe that looking at the lesson of Maddux (Who had over 3000 k’s), it doesn’t necessitate a particular tunnel vision approach…the idea is still to get outs, yes you aim for less over all pitches, quicker innings and a much more involved defense…but dude…if you can get a k get a k.
One thing I’ve also seen common to this thread on the 3 boards, an almost sneering derision at the kids who want to work this way…like they aren’t “power pitchers” or have sub-par heat…well I know my kid has been very successful with it at the high school level (And he was very sought after at the D-1 level) and his subsequent endevors in college and TPM’s kid on HSBB was drafted into the pros as a solid sinker baller.
Look at the pro’s I see this approach working fine and dandy with the creme of the league…Halliday, Peevy, Carmona, Zambrano (Well Carlos has sort of lost focus). I see several different types of pitching, there is the mystify them types like Dice-K and Wakefield (Both ends of that spectrum) blow them away fellows in which Tim Lincecum and Beckett lead the way and the “pitch to contact” crowd led by those I mentioned. All got them into the bigs with success, each has proponents and detractors, I don’t think it debatable that the strategies work.
For Steve who coaches at the High School level, I would think it (Pitching to contact) a most sensable way to approach his team pitching philosophy because he isn’t likely to have more than one certified smoke thrower (Upper 80’s to 90) in say a 5 year stretch and throwing junk constantly has a whole grab bag of unhappy side effects (Walks, hbp’s high pitch counts…etc). So with that thought I’d just have to tip my cap and encourage the pursuit of that philosophy as imo solid and thinking in the best interests of his pitchers and fielders.

I think “pitching to contact” is simply trying to get batters to hit pitcher’s pitchers.

That’s exactly what Ed Lopat said. “Get the ball over the plate and make the batter hit it. Make him go after YOUR pitch, what you WANT him to hit.” One important point: this strategy requires a finer degree of control than just going for the strikeout.
Lopat told me once about how he would deal with certain power hitters—or at least, those who thought they were. He knew they were licking their chops over how they were going to murder his slow stuff—so he would take even more off those pitches, with the end result being either a strikeout or a weak dribbler to first base. :slight_smile: Believe me, I kept that in mind, and how this would discombooberate the batters even more!The whole point is, you have to know what kind of batter you’re dealing with, so you’ll know which particular strategy to use.

Bingo Bango Bongo. The problem with many youngsters is they try to be “perfect” and they don’t want the hitters to hit the ball. Therefore they nibble and here comes the walk circus. Challenge hitters, be aggressive in the bottom of the strike zone. There’s a reason why hitting is the toughest thing to do in sports. You gotta love facing a team full of hackers, it just means it’s going to be a quick game baby! All you have to do is focus on making good pitches, not “perfect” ones.

Just make sure you’re not pitching for the Angels in extra innings during the ALCS when you’re throwing those sinkers. :lol:

Pitching to contact is a mentality for pitchers. While the goal is to live on the corners and throw quality strikes, you have to be realistic about your own ability.

MLB avg for strikes thrown is 62%. That includes all swings. So how many of those pitches were either balls out of the strike zone or simply balls that weren’t in their intended spot, but still in the strike zone? If you break it down, MLB pitchers might hit their spot 40% of the time, and that’s being generous.

Now if you’re a high school or college pitcher, how often will you actually hit your spot? That’s where pitching to contact comes into play–it gives you a margin for error. If the catcher is always set up way off the plate, you have a small margin of error for keeping the ball in the strike zone. If the catcher has his glove in the strike zone, you can miss to either side and still be throwing strikes. It just gives you leeway to stay in the strike zone.

So pitching to contact is a mentality for pitchers that their stuff is good enough to throw around the zone and still miss bats without giving hitters too much credit. It’s the opposite of nibbling. Attack the zone and make them hit your best pitches.