Control and Command the Fastball while Pitching
The most effective pitch, yet overlooked pitch, in the game of baseball is the fastball. It was the first pitch invented way before Mr. Doubleday made a sport called baseball. From the beginning of time, human beings have been throwing the fastball. There must be a reason why this simple throwing motion has stood the test of time.
Often “new” overtakes “old”, but in baseball, certain relics outlast and outshine their competitors. The fastball is the ultimate pitch. As kids are learning to pitch, the fastball comes natural and the early urge from pitching coaches, parents and little league coaches is to introduce the myriad of other pitches. Kids have a fascination with breaking pitches including the curveball and slider. The oddity of the knuckleball amazes all even though only a select few can throw it. The changeup is introduced to decrease stress on a young kid’s elbow. Through it all – “old Charlie” is often forgotten.
While talking to a young man the other day who had pitched at a high level he commented that at the end of his career, he finally realized that simplicity is the key to pitching. “Control and spot the fastball and you can be effective in baseball for a long time.” Secondary pitches like the curveball and changeup are essential parts of the pitching game and cannot be overlooked, but the fastball is the key to the kingdom.
The ability to spot a fastball on the outside corner is worth more than velocity or spin on your curveball. The ability to throw an inside fastball at the knees is more valuable than a nasty slider. Secondary pitches might come and go for pitchers. But when a pitcher steps to the mound and toes the rubber, he must always have the confidence in his fastball. The ability to control the fastball and spot it where you want to is worth its weight in gold. I saw a stat last week that mentioned that Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon threw 95% fastballs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and threw a shutout.
Spotting a fastball where you want takes years of practice and commitment to your mechanics. In order for a pitcher to spot the fastball in the same spot over and over, the pitcher needs to repeat or duplicate the same mechanics. Repeating takes time and practice. So remember, don’t be in hurry to learn all new pitches and get great movement. Start with the “old fashioned”. It has stood the test of time and it will continue to dominate the game like no other pitch.
Until Next Time,