This year I am moving up an age group with bigger, better and stronger kids. I have never had a fast fastball but I was able to get away with throwing slower until now. Now that the players will be able to do damage with my fastball I need to be able to get outs and not overthrow. Does anyone have any tips on still being productive while not throwing hard.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to go more to your off speed stuff. Older guys in the majors that have seen their fastball go down in velocity rely on their off speed stuff.
The more you keep the batter off balance with off speed pitches, the faster your fast ball will be to the hitter.
Why not work hard at developing your fastball?
I’m assuming by your post of [quote]…moving up to bigger stronger better kids…[/quote] you’re still somewhat on the young side
Yes I am one of the youngest in the league. I am 13 and most of the players in the league are 15-16.
Several people have said that if you can’t overpower the hitters with sheer speed you have to outthink and outfox them. I was one of those who recognized that I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer, so I went in the other direction and became a very, very good finesse pitcher. Because I didn’t have a fastball to speak of I had to acquire a number of breaking and offspeed pitches, which I did—a whole closetful of them. Of course, control and command were paramount—location, mixing up the pitches, and even without a fastball I learned to change speeds. And I had help—information, advice and instruction from one of the finest pitching coaches one could ever hope to work with: Eddie Lopat, who worked with me and helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before.
My advice would be to find your best pitch and your second-best pitch and construct your arsenal around them. That’s what I did; my best pitch was a slider which I nicknamed “Filthy McNasty” after a character in an old
W.C. Fields movie because that was exactly what it was, with a sharp late break, and my second-best was a very good knuckle-curve. And Lopat told me that just about any pitch I threw could be turned into a very nice changeup, and he demonstrated several for me and showed me how to throw them. I pitched for more than twenty years, both as a starter and as a late-inning reliever, and never lost a game. Sweet. 8)
[quote=“Wales Diesel”]Why not work hard at developing your fastball?
…you’re still somewhat on the young side[/quote]
Absolutely continue to develop your fastball. It’s still the pitch that must be used regularly to set up these other pitches and keep hitters from lacing your other stuff. Keep putting most of your effort into improving the fastball. I was a junk pitcher, but I never practiced my junk except for maybe 10 throws in each bullpen. I spent over 80% of my time throwing fast balls, even though in the game, only slightly more than half were fast balls.
Work on getting your current fastball inside to hitters. Inside pitches give less reaction time than those further out over the plate. Strikes thrown to the upper inside corner will have the most perceived velocity to the hitter.
I was not the hardest thrower by any means, but I was successful throughout American Legion because I had excellent control. When I wanted to throw a fastball to a spot, it went there most of the time.
My basic strategy worked off the understanding that hitters want to hit a fastball over the middle or inner half. I would often start off with an inside curve ball (often they would take it if they are disciplined hitters waiting for the fast ball, but it also set their eyes to a slow velocity and sometimes get them to move their feet) or a circle change on the inner third (down and in tail as it died). The deception of the change up gets their bat moving early before they realize it’s a change up. Then I would come in with the fastball. It will often be pulled foul or missed completely. With two strikes you can now expand the zone and take advantage of the fact that hitter must protect with two strikes. At this point you have myriad options to finish off the hitter. Vary how you finish and you will be even more difficult to square up.
Pick your spots to muscle up on your fastball. I would save my strength for the up and in fastball when I needed a non-contact out. My 82 seemed like 90 when compared with my 68 mph curve and change up or my 75 mph slider. Especially when thrown in the part of the zone that is closest to the hitter’s eyes or slightly off the plate between the inside corner and their hands.
The last thing you want hitter to be comfortable doing is diving out over the plate and owning the outer half.
Paul, you mentioned an 82MPH fastball. A far cry from 94-95—but I guess you would call that a fastball when juxtaposed with your other stuff. I didn’t think to mention it—but somewhere along the line I picked up what turned out to be just that, an 81-82MPH four-seamer with a lot of movement on it, and I was stunned beyond belief when Eddie Lopat told me that it was indeed a fastball (his was 85 or 86MPH). He said, “That’s a good pitch. Use it.” And so I did, and to the batters it looked more like 96 miles an hour. It set up old Filthy McNasty beautifully, especially when I would crossfire that pitch. I guess anything over 80 is, so to speak, a fastball. I’m not complaining.
Apparently I had good rotational velocity on my pitches because even at lower speeds I had good run on them. Everything I threw moved in some direction other than straight.