Types of Pitches

How to identify types of pitches in baseball, and know what each pitch does.

What is a sinker? What is a knuckle ball? How do I identify and hit a cut fastball? How fast is each type of pitch? What do the pitch grips look like?

various pitch grips for different types of pitches in baseball

Two seam fastball pitch grip

These and other questions are answered in this summary of the types of pitches in baseball. Also, Yankee pitchers Kevin Whelan and DJ Mitchell demonstrate the proper grip on the baseball for different types of pitches.

Knowing the different types of pitches and their movements is important for both the pitcher and batter.  As the batter, knowing the types of pitches and how to recognize them when they are thrown will help you make contact with baseball more consistently.

Understanding what each pitch does

different types of pitches in baseball, various grips for pitching

Cut fastball grip

4-seam fastball
  • This pitch is the hardest of the fastballs, it rotates backwards keeping the ball straight with not much movement.
2-seam fastball (sinker)
  • The 2-seamer or the sinker is a fastball that is just gripped differently than the 4-seamer. It is held with the seams rather than across.
  • This pitch moves arm side of the pitcher and down.
  • This movement is a result of the seams catching the air in a way that pushes the ball down and in to righties from a right handed pitcher.
  • 1-3 mph slower than the 4-seamer.
various baseball pitch grips, grip for a slider, various types of pitches in baseball

Slider grip

2-seam fastball (runs)
  • This is the same pitch as the sinker, but some pitchers have trouble making the ball dive towards the ground.
  • If the ball moves to the pitchers arm side (inside to a righty from a right handed pitcher) and doesn’t have any depth, than the ball runs.
  • 1-3 mph slower than the 4-seamer.
Cut fastball
  • This one is still in the fastball family and moves the opposite way of the 2-seamer.
  • Out of the hand it looks a little like a cement mixer slider. With spin that that is looser than a slider, it can be tough to pick up the rotation early, because there is no red dot in the middle of the baseball.
  • Has similar action to the slider, just less movement. Also it has more velocity than the slider (5-8 mph slower than 4-seamer).
  • This pitch moves only a few inches to the pitchers glove side and doesn’t usually have much depth.
Yankee pitcher Kevin Whelan demonstrates a type of curveball grip.  Types of baseball pitches and baseball pitch grips. How to recognize and hit a knuckle curveball pitch

knuckle curveball grip

Slider
  • This pitch slides at an angle towards the pitchers glove side with depth.
  • Its usually 9-12 mph slower than the 4-seam fastball.
  • You will see tight spin with a red dot (seams converging and spinning) to help you identify the slider.
  • Usually has a break of 3-6 inches.
Curveball
    • Has significantly more depth than the slider.
    • Usually has a 12-6 break (as if looking at a clock).
    • Spin is straight over the top, and the ball will look like it has a hump coming out of the pitchers hand.
types of pitches in baseball.  Yankee pitcher DJ Mitchell demonstrates the proper grip for a circle changeup pitch

circle changeup grip

  • A knuckle curve ball has the same movement as a regular curve ball, the only difference is the grip.
  • Usually at least 15 mph slower than the fastball. Every now and then a pitcher will throw it harder, but still not as hard as the slider.
  • Check out Garrett Richards shares tips for throwing a curveball
Slurve
  • Mixture of the slider and curve ball.
  • Usually big and loopy but its break angle is more of a 10-4 or11-5 if looking at a clock, pitched from a right hander.
  • Closer to the curveball speed than the slider speed.
  • The slurve is more common than a true curveball.
types of pitches in baseball, baseball pitch grips, how to recognize different pitches from the batter's point of view

Change up grip

Change-up
  • Is supposed to have the same spin as a fastball.
  • 8-15 mph slower than the fastball.
  • Depending on the pitcher, some will throw a change-up that has a little depth, and some just float it in there and rely on the change in speed, and the similar spin for effectiveness.
Split finger
  • Can be thrown hard or softer to act like a change-up.
  • Regardless of the velocity it is thrown, the action is the same.
  • There is a tumbling down action to the baseball, which can be seen out of the pitchers hand. The baseball starts in the zone and dives straight into the ground.
  • This pitch has very late down movement which makes this pitch to lay off of.  Most times it is not thrown for a strike.
  • Is used mostly as a strikeout pitch.
professional pitchers demonstrate the different kinds of pitches and pitch grips; how to recognize and hit different types of pitches

Split finger fastball grip

Knuckle ball
  • Usually thrown very slow, and used on almost every pitch.
  • The ball comes into the zone with almost no rotation. This will make the ball flutter, having unpredictable movement which can make the pitch tough to hit and catch.
  • The old adage when hitting a knuckle ball is, “if its high, let it fly, if its low, let it go.”

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I hope this brief overview of some different types of pitches is helpful for you.  I invite you to ask questions or leave feedback by commenting below.  Play hard!  – Doug

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About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

5 Comments

  1. Thank you because, though most people take it for granted, you actually explained that “a curveball spins from top to bottom.” So many time I see teachers completely forget to teach this most basic fact of the curveball.

  2. I greatly appreciate your explanations. I’m working on a project that outlines and describes all of the various pitch types used in modern day MLB baseball. The problem that I’m having is that there does not seem to be any true uniformity in describing just how different pitch types move after release. Many movment descriptions from one source will be exactly like the movements of different pitches from another source…

    What is the best and most definitive source that you’ve found for in-depth explanations of pitches with accompanying illustrations/diagrams?

    Thank you for your time.

  3. Doug, the "bug" on

    Okay, here’s the deal: I’ve never played professional baseball; my brother and cousin have–the cousin even “broke in” with Nolan Ryan, for God’s sake and were on the same teams together for two seasons.
    I have played and coached at the LL, high school, college and semi-pro levels–and simply just KNOW HOW to hit a baseball, that’s all; better yet, I now HOW to teach it in a simple manner to young hitters.

    Two things I need to address with Doug’s instruction..Everything sounds good, except: 1.) he says nothing about “batlag”, and how the hip rotation just a little BEFORE that generates that “batlag” into batspeed before contact, and 2.) he says nothing about NOT strightening your bottom hand elbow (a “no-no” ) as the hands are in the hitting zone, prior to making contact WITH the baseball. Everything else I don’t have a problem with..

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