How To Throw Different Pitches

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

The following describes the effect that spin has on the various baseball pitches.

4-SEAM FASTBALL: Extremely fast backspin makes it try to rise, or "stay up."

2-SEAM FASTBALL: Medium to fast (depending on the grip) backspin and, with only 2 seams cutting through the air, it should drop a bit more than the 4-seamer

SPLIT-FINGER FASTBALL: Same as 2-seamer but with slower backspin since the "split" fingers tend to slide off the ball. Should drop more than most regular 2-seamers

STRAIGHT-CHANGE: Slow to medium backspin should make it drop.

CURVE: Very fast forward spin makes it drop.

KNUCKLEBALL: Almost spinless. The ideal amount of spin is about ½ revolution forward on its way to the plate. It should drop sharply at the last instant

FORKBALL: Same as knuckleball but thrown with a different grip.

SLIDER: Extremely fast sidespin makes it move to the side.

SCREWBALL: Sidespins like a reverse slider.

Obviously, many curves have some sidespin in addition to forward spin. They will move horizontally in addition to the drop.

Sliders can sometimes have some forward spin in addition to the sidespin. They will drop a bit in addition to the horizontal movement.

Some change-ups move like a screwball (reverse slider). Many pitchers throw their circle change like this.


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