How To Pitch A Changeup
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
The change-up is the best pitch in baseball. You don't need curve balls or knuckle balls, if you mix in a good change-up and change speeds on your fastball. The batter will be so confused, his timing will never be the same. Timing is everything to a hitter and most hitting slumps are a matter of timing distortions-not mechanics.
The guys who throw 95 m.p.h. on every pitch can get rocked, but the pitcher that can go from 90 to 70 to 85 to 75 on successive pitches will keep batters off balance and in the dugout.
A few years ago, the Braves had a pitcher who could throw 101 m.p.h. of which there were probably 2 people that could this. He only could be used in short relief and never made it because he could never develop a change-up to change speeds. He eventually got rocked.
Throwing a fastball after a change up makes the fastball appear twice as fast. Add a high high fastball, which youth can rarely catch up to (even without a change up), and you develop an unhittable fastball.
For a youth pitcher, the change up must be thrown often in order to develop it. However, once perfected it must be used sparingly, at the right time, to fool the hitter. The important component of the changeup is it MUST look like a fastball during the windup and delivery.
Where the fastball exerts ball pressure on a narrow area, the circle change uses spread fingers and a tighter grip to reduce the force coming from the hand. This spreading of pressure across a larger ball area sufficiently reduces velocity enough to encourage batters to move forward into their launch position earlier.
They may still make contact with the ball, but without (having already committed) hip and leg action, they typically produce power with arms swings only. While some pitchers with a good fastball may use the change-up as a strike-out pitch, many use it to set up another pitch such as a high fastball, a slider, or split finger.
Changing speeds helps prevent batters from making good solid contact because they must "hold back" their swing (launch) in order to judge pitch speed.
Batters that do make solid contact against pitchers who change speeds often will tell you they were "looking for a pitch" (guessing). A pitcher must be smart about not falling into a pitch order routine.
This is part of the unseen "cat and mouse" game of baseball.
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