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
Read more about hitting fundamentals
- batting stances
- situational hitting
- 7 absolutes for hitting a baseball
- best wood baseball bats
Every baseball game features hundreds of pitches from 60 feet, 6 inches, each serving one defined purpose: to defeat a hitter.
Thank you for pointing out that there are many different pitches in baseball. My son is planning to get into baseball as a hobby. I will look for a pitching academy to enroll him in.
Hey there! I’m sitting here with my 10 year old son chatting baseball. (I’m the mom!) I’ve played softball much of my life, so my baseball IQ is higher than that of most girls, but I still get hung up on some things that are different.
Is there a pitch in baseball called a riser?
Thanks! I need to learn as much as I can – this kid’s goal is to make it to the big leagues and my job as mom is to support his goal!
Not sure why this went unanswered, or if you’ll ever see the response, but here’s a free amateur response anyway. As I understand it, a “riser” is a bit of a misnomer, but it refers to a fastball. The better the rotation on a fastball, the more “lift” it has on it to counter gravity. However gravity still prevails, so the ball does not, in fact, ever actually gain altitude. But if you’re a batter watching a fast ball come in and your brain expects the ball to drop at a typical rate, the actual trajectory of the ball appears to rise relative to your expectations. So in a nutshell, your perception is that the ball is rising.
There is a riser in soft ball but it has a lot more area for the air to affect it so it moves all directions , when a hardball is thrown around 85 mph and up the more it moves but not up
your job as a mom is to make your children socially responsible adults, not civic problems, recidivists, or drug abusing criminals. if you have time after that, go ahead and support his unrealistic dreams and encourage him to beat the incredible odds of making it to the majors. what the hey, there are 800 MLB players, and only 330 million people in the US. better not let him know over 50% of those players are from latin american countries, so the actual pond MLB is fishing in is much greater than just the 330 million in the US, and his chances are about 1.2 millionths of 1% to make that goal happen.
people dont make their dreams a reality because they listen to people like you, they get overwhelmed with the hatred they are reviving and give because they dont see the point in trying if they aren’t gonna make it. you should be encouraging this kid to be the best he can because who knows he could be the next mike trout or the next ken Griffey jr.
Practice the serve called
I think the riser or ‘rise ball’ is a pitch in softball.
Yes there is! Its called a rising fastball. This type of fastball rises in the air. This can trick the batter from thinking the ball is gonna go center with no motion like it always does.
“moves arm side of the pitcher”
What does “moves arm side” mean?
an example of arm side movement would be a right hand pitcher throwing to a right handed batter and the pitch moves (run or sinks) towards the hitter on the pitcher’s arm side vs away from the hitter like a curveball which breaks outside or away from the hitter towards the pitchers glove side.
How hard does one usually throw a knuckle curveball on a scale of 1-10?
As I watch MLB games, I hear the announcers saying, ‘That was a slider down and away” or “2-seam fastball over the plate” and I wanted to see how these pitches were held and thrown. Thank you!
Hey this is on excellent description of the pitches in baseball. Now all I need is to recognize each from the televized perspective that is the standard for all coverage .
The commentators seem to identity each pitch with great ease.
Sadly, most of the kids who come to us in high school are cemented into throwing just a 2-seam fastball, a circle change, and a curve. Their hand size changes – as does their entire body and build – but their Little League and travel league coaches are often the same guys.
So, thanks for the info and pictures. This will help with getting pitchers to try some new stuff, adjust their grips, and focus more on control and movement.
Often a very successful young pitcher will suddenly struggle – invariably it’s because the competition at the high school level is so much better than what they’ve faced.
how about the euphus pitch, an extreme high change-up usually causing the batter to overswing. I remember a certain juan marachal had five different curve balls, how about Vida Blue’s rising fastball. I asked my 2yr 10m
old grandson how many pitches he had and this is why i end up asking internet the same question.
former pitcher, 3rd base and left fielder. age 70
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.
How do throw a scerw ball I have been trying to find out for along time
How do you throw the slidder pitch?
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.
There is no uniformity. NONE! One pitcher calls what they throw as curve, but another calls it a slurve. One may throw a “slider,” while another will be throwing a cutter… same pitch different name. Announcers see one pitch and call it one thing where it is often something else. Different pitching coaches even have different names for the same pitches. And if this isn’t enough, different pitches that do the same thing can be thrown different ways with different grips. The ones listed are the main pitches, BUT there are infinite variations… AND all pitches act differently when thrown sidearm, submarine, overhand, and what most pitchers throw, three quarter, and the each pitch grip reacts to the different arm angle. I am quite sure that I can throw over 120 different variations if I include arm angles different curve grips, different slider grips, different split & forkball grips. That is probably a very conservative estimate.
I just checked how many ways I can throw a curve..15, and that is only overhand, so I can throw 15 side arm, 15 three quarter, fifteen high three quarter, fifteen low three quarter, plus the 15 over hand. That is 75 different curves plus a few that I have thrown submarine, plus the knuckle curve that I did not include because it is just like one of my variations just with the fore finger lifted, but all of the curves are thrown with the middle finger, so I didn’t call it a variation.
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..