Some pitchers have trouble delivering the same pitch, but with variations in accuracy when facing left-handed batters Vs right-handed batters, and the other way around.
In other words, lets say a right-handed pitcher is really good at hitting the down-n-away pitch to a right-handed batter, oh, with 85% effectiveness. Now I’m not mixing in the considerations here, nibblers just off the black and such. Only true strikes - four seams with deliberate location.
In every single case, I’ve had right-handed pitchers who were dead on with 85%-90% with locations for RH batters, but, for the exact same location over the plate, they were only70%-80% when facing a lefty. The same to a lesser degree with left-handed pitchers. Why this lesser degree, I could never figure out.
So, regardless if you pitch or if you coach pitchers, this is something worth making a note on.
It would be helpful to bullpen yourself and get a number down of what’s your variation when tossing the same pitch, same location on the plate, but to different batters - RH or LH.
I know this picture below may be a bit confusing, but the boxes are located on either side of the plate to signify how accurate are you for the four basic locations of your four seam fastball.
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I found it easier to get inside on a LH hitter being a RHP.
Eddie Lopat used to remind pitchers—and he often had to remind them several times—“Never the same pitch, never the same speed, never the same place.” He knew whereof he spoke, and he would cite an example from his White Sox days: he would throw a particular pitch, and the batter would swing and drive it foul. Then he would repeat that pitch—and this time the batter didn’t miss, and the ball landed in the upper deck fair by several feet. He knew that you have to vary the location, vary the speed, even the arm angle, no matter who was up there at the plate, if you were to have any chance of getting him out, and the problem arose when he missed on any one of these.
I remember one game where I had to come in to relieve in the seventh inning, and there was one batter I knew I would have to deal differently with: not the first one whom I retired on three sliders and all he did was stand there and go “duh”. This second one would go after the first pitch no matter where it was, and so I started him off with a curveball—which he swung at a little late and fouled off. Then I fed him a knuckle-curve, which he missed by a mile. I threw one wide of the plate, and he didn’t move—was he still sitting on a fastball (which I didn’t have)? 1-and-2. Then I came in there with that crossfire slider, and he swung so hard he lost his balance and fell over on his tush with arms and legs up in the air like an overturned bug! Strike three, and I got my team out of the inning with no further damage done.
The thing was, when I retired the first batter I faced I threw three sliders, but in different locations, and the third one was with the crossfire. And the dummox just stood there and took all three—probably never saw a slider before. Anyhoo, the whole point is, you have to vary the location, the speed and even the arm angle if you use more than one.
Zita is so right about changing speeds and locations.
When I first started coaching, I was put behind the net to toss BP. Not often, just enough to embarrass me. I was terrible at it. I couldn’t even hit myself with the ball, even if I wanted to.
I soon developed an uneasy relationship with all those who swung a bat. And that was because my fastball topped out at around 50-60 MPH. So trying to adjust from the customary pitches in the upper 80’s & 90’s, here comes a slow-boat-to-China.
I also had a tendency to hit guys, one out of ten pitches that I send down, which didn’t help matters any.
So, besides ducking and getting dinged by a floater or two, changing speeds and location was well worth the practice. (sure, I can say that because I wasn’t the one ducking and getting dinged!)
Coach B., it’s a good thing you never were a fireballer.
I remember a story about Allie Reynolds when he was at Oklahoma State U.,where he played several sports and did very well at them because he was a natural athlete with a powerful arm. The baseball coach asked him one day if he would throw some batting practice to the team. Reynolds said okay and took the mound—at the usual distance of 60’6" with no net—but what he threw was not batting practice. He fired the ball in there, 95-100 MPH, and struck out one batter after another. The coach stared at him for a minute and then yelled at him, "Go get a uniform! You’re on the team!"
Reynolds was a fireballer.