Screwball to work as changeup?

My son (14) was experimenting with a screwball. He wasn’t expecting it to ever amount to anything. He’s got a 3/4 delivery and we thought the screwball is mostly for over the top guys.

Within maybe 15 minutes (mixing it in with fastballs) it got interesting. He did a good job turning it and cutting through the inside of the baseball. He’s a RHP and the pitches were doing what they were supposed to - breaking down and toward the RH hitters box.

It wasn’t as fast as his fastball or slider, but not looping or significantly slower. He’s never really had a change up (I know shame on me). I’m thinking perhaps this pitch with more work could act as a change for him. Right now, I don’t think he’s disguising it well enough as a fastball. There’s a little awkwardness, but I think there’s a possibility he could get more comfortable with it and disguise it very well.

Thoughts?

There actually is such a thing as a changeup screwball, and apparently that is what your kid has been working around with. I remember two instances of that pitch from way back when: first, Yankee ace Ed Lopat, who threw a terrific screwball, came up with a changeup version of it; second, Joey Jay, a pitcher for Cincinnati in the early 60s, did the same thing—he called it a “slop slider”. In both instances you just turn it over a little, the reverse of what you would do with a slider—think of a chef flipping a pancake or a crepe. This pitch will have batters popping up one at a time, like Kleenex, and if not overused it can be very effective indeed. So let the kid work with it and use it, with discretion. 8)

is your son throwing something that is turned over or something that is actually spinning with top spin? play catch with him and try to see that, is the ball actually having top spin or is it backward but with an altered axis that makes it tail away? if its the later he might just want to get a change up grip and there goes the change up.

now if it’s a real top spin screwball that actually BREAKS instead of tailing like a change up or a sinker would, it all depends on how he throws it. first of all, the best screwballs are coming from low 3/4 and not over the top like you thought, in all respect, if you thought screwballs were primarly thrown overthe top, just ask yourself if you know enough about this pitch to learn it to your son. everything he will add to is arsenal is like a weapon for battle, would you send your son to a battle with a bow you made him which you know nothing about, or would you go for the best possible bow maker around?

it is not a coincidence that most young pitchers get a cutter when they reach the mlb with the yankees mariano rivera has a great one, it isnt a coincidence that a bunch of guys learned the splitter while hanging around with jj putz. what i mean by that is that instead of forcing a pitch in to your son, you might just want to take the time to find someone who has that third pitch you are looking for and he might have a little talk about it with your son. this is the best thing to do.

Where he found the idea is browsing some of Marshal’s stuff. His “max-line screwball” grip looks sort of like a hybrid of a circle and 3 finger change.

It’s been a while since we’ve spent time taking a look at what he teaches. As I recall though he advocates throwing over the top and lots of pronation. That’s where I came up with the idea that the screwball was an over the top specialty. That and my son spent some time talking to a former big leaguer that talked about throwing it to get right handed pull hitters to give him a ground ball. He threw conventionally.

Anywho, after one day of playing with this it could be spinning both ways that you (4pie) are describing. A work in progress in it’s infancy for sure and there was inconsistency. And to be expected especially watching him focusing on grip of the ball and how to release it - his overall mechanics weren’t near as graceful. It did seem surprisingly easy to him though when he threw a few nice ones, so I can buy it fitting his low 3/4 style.

What’s really encouraging is that last night he threw against a friend’s all star team in their practice helping them get ready for their district tournament. He likes to sink his 2sfb, but concentrated on trying to get it to bend back toward righties. Not something he’s had much consistency with, but feels like he found it last night. Now he’s really hot on being able to throw two pitches with similar movement, but at different speeds.

This has been a year of adapting and evolving. On the small field he just threw it by batters and his breaking stuff wasn’t as good, but was really effective because reaction time was less. This year he’s pitching to contact a lot. Likes to show the 4sfb mostly in, and locate down and away with a 2sfb, and then mix sliders in that mostly finish out of the zone. He’s not bad at hitting spots (been getting lots of ground outs), but misses a lot too. Really needs to put that tool of going softer to change speeds in his bag.

The screwball is an offspeed pitch and, in that sense, it is an acceptable alternative to the change-up. However, it’s not as deceiving as the change-up due to the different spin.

Baloney.

My change up was off the 2 seamer and had similar tendancies as a so called screw ball and was very effective. The key is fastball arm speed with the correct mph reduction, and the ability to throw consistently for strikes in fastball counts. There is no right or wrong way …

Baloney.

My change up was off the 2 seamer and had similar tendancies as a so called screw ball and was very effective. The key is fastball arm speed with the correct mph reduction, and the ability to throw consistently for strikes in fastball counts. There is no right or wrong way …[/quote]

Good points but an experienced hitter will be able to pick up on the different spin.

Baloney.

My change up was off the 2 seamer and had similar tendancies as a so called screw ball and was very effective. The key is fastball arm speed with the correct mph reduction, and the ability to throw consistently for strikes in fastball counts. There is no right or wrong way …[/quote]

Hmmm…

I fail to see where I said anything was ineffective or wrong. In fact, I agree with your comments and don’t think what I said contradicts them. My only point is that many pitchers’ change-ups have spin similar to fastballs and, therefore, they are more disguised because their spin cannot be used to differentiate them from fastballs. Certainly many pitchers have their own variants they use for change-ups and I’ll agree my comments might not apply to them.

even great hitters cant do much when they do recognize spin. you might lay off of it but your pitch surely doesnt become a LOT more lethal when spin is the same.

i had a pitcher in my team last year who was trying to get his fastball change up and curve to all spin on the exact same axis, he would still get clubbered hard.
best thing for a change up is arm speed, hitters dont have a whole lot of time to react to a fastball so when you see fastball arm speed you swing fastball you dont sit back check out the spin think fastball split change slider or curve? you just wack at it.

Don’t give up onnthe change, but keep throwing the screwball if it’s working, like it sounds like it is. Just about every college and pro pitcher throws some sort of change of speed… So it’s important in my opinion to keep one in your back pocket. But, that screwball sounds like an excellent pitch for you and lots of big leaguers have made a living with it! Keep up the good work!