Pitchers Pickoff Moves

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Let's talk about baseball pick-off moves with a runner on first base and a right handed pitcher.

In this situation, the pitcher's only goal is to keep the runner from getting a great jump on steals. This can be accomplished many ways, for example, throwing over early, holding the ball longer in the stretch, stepping back, pitchouts, and even sometimes not throwing over at all so the runner can't get a read.

When the pitcher does throw over, he needs to learn to do everything the same from the start. When he throws over, he needs both a good move and a slow move.

For the good move, the pitcher needs to learn to rotate his shoulder, break his hands a moment before his feet, and throw with a short arm path, like a catcher.

He can also use a jump-turn which is quick, but allows the runner to pick up the move earlier.

For the slow move, the pitcher needs to use the same footwork, only use a long arm circle.

In addition, the pitcher can use an early move where he bounces the ball off the back of the glove on the way up.

Lefties pitching with a runner on first base need to be sure to have good balance in the first balance position on the back leg, allowing them to perform the same arm action to throw both home and to first.

This is done by bringing the arm down, back and up in the same manner, and merely throw to first or to home.

From the set, the pitcher needs to look halfway between first and home. If he does this every time, the runner will never get a chance to use his head as an indicator for stealing.

When the pitcher throws to first, he should slide the foot forward six inches towards home, then step on the 45-degree angle towards the foul line. He cannot bring the front leg behind the plane of the rubber.

When holding runners on second base, the pitcher needs to keep the runner at second close, not only to keep him from stealing, but to give the outfielders a chance at throwing him out at home.

This can be done with help from the shortstop and second baseman, but the primarily responsibility rests with the pitcher. He should not be predictable with his moves. He should come to a set looking home, allowing him to throw home without any looks as an option.

Next, he should check the runner, then look home, then look to third before throwing home. He has the option of throwing home with no looks, with one look, or after the look to third.

It is imperative to switch up the amount of looks. He should also add in the spin move periodically, so it's planted in the runner's consciousness.


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