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11-09-12 22:40 Age: 250 days
KNOW WHAT TO THROWCategory: Top Stories
How to Master Pitch Sequencing and Become an Elite Pitcher
It's important for a pitcher to throw slower when he falls behind in the count. The reason for throwing slower is that hitters expect pitchers to throw fastballs when they are behind in the count so that they don't walk the hitter.
But how do you take control from the first pitch throughout the at bat? It's call pitch sequencing. Read on, and you'll discover how to have more control of the entire at bat.
Pitch sequencing is a term used to describe both the order and the location of the pitches thrown during a particular at bat. You may have watched a game on television when they cut a highlight showing each pitch thrown during an at bat; it's like a flip book for the entire at bat. Sometimes the network will use this type of highlight to show how a hitter fouled off several pitches before crushing a mistake that the pitcher made. Other times it is used to show how the pitcher dissected the hitter.
Of course sequencing is only for pitchers who have command of their pitches and is most applicable when a pitcher is ahead in the count or is starting a new batter. To be able to get to this level, a young pitcher must rely on muscle memory to repeat proper mechanics on every pitch before he can start to think more about what he wants to do with his pitches. If you still have a difficult time with throwing your pitches for a strike, then you may not be able to apply the concepts discussed here. This article, however, should get you excited to hear more about how you can become an elite pitcher and make you want to work harder at repeating proper mechanics.
Before the article covers examples of pitch sequences, it is important to understand why pitch sequencing is such an important part of a pitcher's success. Great hitters become more comfortable with every pitch they see and subsequently every at bat they have against you. A pitcher's job is to mix up his pitches and locations well enough so that you keep the hitter from feeling comfortable or noticing a pattern. If you can only throw a fastball for a strike, hitters will quickly gauge your velocity and it won't be too long before you are just like a pitching machine.
Location is also a factor. If you throw your fastball only to the outside corner against lefties, then they will start to look for the pitch away and hammer it to left field. Location is also up and down. For the most part, pitchers should keep the ball down; you have less of a chance of giving up the big hit. In the highest levels (high school and up) throwing at the knees every pitch, however, will never change what is called the hitter's eye level. If a team is smart, they watch what you throw to every hitter and look for tendencies. After going through the lineup, if you stay in a certain location, then they will get up to the plate sitting on the pitch in that location. You have to throw up, down, inside and outside to keep advancing up the ranks.
Now that you have a definition of pitch sequencing and know what level of pitcher is ready for pitch sequencing, it is time to cover some scenarios or sample pitch sequences. When sitting down to think about possible pitch sequences, you have to know what options or pitches that the pitcher has. A pitcher that throws only a fastball and changeup will have a different game plan from a pitcher who throws a fastball, changeup and curveball.
Let's take the pitcher who only throws a fastball and changeup. This pitcher will need to rely more on the location of his fastball and the change of speed in his changeup than a pitcher that has three pitches. It is possible to survive with just a fastball and changeup as long as you can throw your fastball with some movement and you feel confident in throwing your changeup in all counts. In my eyes, the changeup is still the best pitch in the game and many young pitchers learn it but don't master it.
To read the rest of the article, including various scenarios with specific pitch sequencing you can use in a game, pick up a copy of the May/June 2012 issue of Junior Baseball. Click here to purchase now.