Thursday, January 19, 2012

Things to Know About Baseball Change Up Pitching

Close your eyes and you can hear the sounds of the ball park. The crack of the bat against ball, the sizzle of the hot dogs on the grill and the snap of a fastball against the catcher's mitt. Then there's the sound of silence. That's not a pause in the action -- it's the sound of a change-up nestling into the catcher's mitt. It might be silent in sound, but it speaks volumes in effectiveness.
Hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sports. The best hitters usually have an average of slightly over .300, meaning they fail nearly 70 percent of the time. Pitchers use the fastball, curve ball, slider and change-up to both overpower and confuse the batter. The change-up is a pitch that is significantly slower than the fastball. When a pitcher throws a 95 MPH fastball and follows with a change-up that is 10 MPH slower, the batter's timing is challenged. Most hitters will swing early on the change-up and either miss the ball or hit a weak ground ball when it is thrown effectively.
Pitchers use different grips when throwing a change-up or a fastball. When a pitcher throws a fastball, he holds the ball with his fingertips across the laces. With the change-up, he holds the ball deep in his palm and with the laces. The pitcher uses the same arm motion as he does with the fastball, but the ball comes out slower.
Additional Movement
In addition to coming into the plate at a slower speed, a pitcher can also get additional movement on the change-up by the pressure he uses with his middle finger on the baseball seam. The pitch will tail low and inside to a right-handed batter and low and away to a left-handed batter. The movement makes it difficult for the batter to make solid contact even if he is not fooled by the slowness of the pitch.
Top Change-up Pitchers
Greg Maddux, who pitched largely for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves between 1986 and 2008, was one of the top pitchers in baseball. Maddux excelled at using his change-up as his most effective pitch throughout the majority of his career. Pedro Martinez had a dominating fastball during the prime of his career with the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox and he used the change-up to confound batters further. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum features the change-up in his repertoire and he helped lead the Giants to the 2011 World Series title with it.

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