By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

A pitcher’s job is to throw strikes. However, there are certain situations when a pitcher must throw an intentional ball to give them an advantage. This is when the pitchout comes into effect.

A pitchout is a pitch thrown intentionally high and outside of the strike zone with the intent of stopping a stolen base or hit and run. A proper pitchout should allow the catcher to stand up and receive the pitch with room to make a quick throw to the base.

If done correctly, a good pitchout can be more effective than a pickoff. With pickoffs, the runners have a chance to get back to the base, but a good pitchout gives the catcher a great opportunity to make a good throw and get the runner.

It is said that a catcher needs to throw the ball to second base in 1.5 seconds to throw out a decent runner. A pitchout allows the catcher more room for error when making his throw, giving him that extra half second necessary to nail the runner.

There are a few things to keep in mind when throwing a good pitchout.

1) Make an accurate throw. There is nothing worse than throwing the ball to the backstop. If this happens, the stealing base runner will most likely end up with 2 bases.

2) Don’t throw too hard. You want to pitch it hard enough to get to the plate, but not so hard where your catcher can’t get to the ball.

3) Don’t throw a strike. You will be so used to throwing the ball over the plate that purposefully throwing the ball out of the zone will be difficult. If your catcher is moving out of the zone, you don’t want your pitch to be grooved down the pipe.

4) Quicken your delivery. A pitchout is supposed to cut down on the time the ball leaves your hand until the time it reaches second base. If you can cut a few milliseconds off your delivery, it could make the difference. Try a slide step!

Practice, practice, practice! Throwing a pitchout is different than your normal delivery, and because of that, you need to practice it in bullpens to throw it properly in a game. Work on it!


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