By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
There are many different pitches that a pitcher can learn to throw and use. Here are the 5 most common different baseball pitches...
Different pitches #1: Four-seam fastball
The straightest and hardest fastball comes from the four-seam grip, held across the seams by holding the ball firmly but not tightly, with the fingers spread only slightly apart. This should be used as a control pitch, as well as when the fastest possible pitch is needed.
Different pitches #2: Two-seam fastball
The two-seam fastball allows for more movement to the right for a right-handed pitcher, caused by holding the ball with the seams, or else by holding it across the seams then turning the ball one-quarter turn to the right, and putting slight pressure on the index finger. The pitcher must acquire a feel for slightly pulling the thumb under the ball to get more movement. It is possible to use this as the control fastball, especially for pitchers who don't throw that hard and don't want to throw four-seamers which stay straight all the time.
Different pitches #3: Curveball
Curveballs are effective pitches, as long as the same mechanics as a fastball are followed. That is, until just after the cocked position, whereupon the palm turns inward, facing the head, and the pitcher reaches out and down to gain extension, while pulling straight down with the wrist. He also must make certain to rotate the hips. It is important not to hook the wrist at any point, as well as have a relaxed wrist and forearm. The ball should come out going across four seams, so hold a regular four-seam fastball, then rotate the ball ¼ turn, with both fingers outside the seam, or with one finger on each side of the seam. Throwing the curveball correctly consistently requires getting a feel for moving the wrist during the period between the cocked position and release, as well as the proper amount of hip rotation. Two curve balls should be developed: one for strikes, and another, a better one which breaks hard, for getting a hitter to chase.
Different pitches #4: Change-up
The simplest and most effective pitch to deceive hitters is the straight change up. In short, the goal is to get a feel for a comfortable grip which can consistently be thrown for strikes. There are a couple of effective grips:
The OK change, or circle change requires holding the ball with the middle and ring finger, instead of the index and middle finger, plus placing the ball underneath the second and third knuckles. The thumb and index finger don't have to make the OK sign, just merely cradle the ball in a sideways U shape.
Another way to throw a change is to use three fingers, with the ball held loosely and deeper in the hand. The pitch should be thrown with the exact same arm action as a fastball, although it is possible to turn it over by having a higher release point, and rotating the wrist out and away to get movement. However, movement should not be construed as essential in this pitch in levels lower than professional baseball. The straight change is a valuable pitch on its own merits of being slower, yet with the same arm action as a fastball. It is important to get a feel for throwing changeups, by playing changeup catch every day, as well as changeup long toss.
Different pitches #5: Cutter
The cut-fastball is held with four-seams with pressure placed on the middle finger, but the key is the slight wrist turn after the cocking phase, halfway between a fastball and a curveball. In turn, the ball moves from right to left for a right-handed pitcher.
Related Pitching Materials
Want to learn more about baseball pitches and pitching grips? Arm yourself with the most innovative and up-to-date baseball pitching training available. These related pitching materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis are guaranteed to help you or the players you coach pitch better and reach the next level faster!