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?
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
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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