Breaking down a player’s pitching repertoire
“You need a good curveball!” “You need a wicked slider!” “The only pitch you need to throw: the knuckleball.”
All of these statements and more might have been said to you, your child, or you’ve heard color commentators talk like this about pitchers in the MLB.
So with all this information available, how do you decide as a pitcher what pitches to pursue? As a coach, what pitches do you favor teaching? Should you favor pitches to teach?
There are a few things that should be consistent for all pitchers:
1) the pitcher should have at least 2 pitches they can throw for strikes consistently.
2) the pitcher shouldn’t have to change their motion to throw the multiple pitches
3) each pitcher should find pitches that fit their throwing style
Attached is a spreadsheet that shows the top 58 pitchers in 2017. It’s broken down by pitch type and pitch effectiveness. It’s a point of reference for what kind of pitches were effective in 2017. For more reference, go to Fangraphs.com to better understand the label and ratings in the spreadsheet.
Taking a look at the list of pitches, these are the pitches that the top pitches: fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, changeup, and sinker.
Each pitcher goes to the mound with a certain mentality. Power pitchers are going to want to throw the ball HARD, and these pitchers will be more inclined to throw hard four-seam fastballs, two-seam fastballs/sinkers, and sliders. Change of pace pitchers are likely more inclined to throw curveballs and change-ups.
It will be important as a pitcher to determine how you feel about each pitch; emotions that you feel as you think about throwing each pitch will affect the success with that pitch. Full commitment is required on the mound. If there’s doubt in your mind about the pitch you’re about to throw, it will likely not go well for you.
I remember when I was pitching, I went through a period like this. I gained some velocity and movement my senior year in college. Normally, this change wouldn’t be a problem; yet I hadn’t ever had movement on my fastball before. With this, I lost some control of my changeup as well. This completely changed my game. I started aiming the ball, constantly walking batters and struggling to get out of innings.
My confidence waned. I lost the ability to see the sign from the catcher, get my grip on the baseball, and throw it past the hitter. It didn’t matter what pitch I tried to throw, the same shaky feeling arose. As a pitcher, you’ve got to toe the rubber with each pitch in your repertoire and have confidence that every pitch will get past the batter and get them out.
Experiment with each pitch, and understand what movement you’re looking to obtain. Pitches, as you continually throw them, will start to resonate with your style on the mound. Understand your style and own it. Confidently get on the mound each time out and know that your pitches are good enough to beat anyone.