Most pitchers miss why they are throwing the pitch in the first place by defining a change by what happens to the hitter .
- To get the hitter swinging on his front foot.
- To get the hitter to be out-in-front.
- To screw up the hitter’s timing.
Is this the outcome we are looking for; YES, but as they get older and play at each new level, they need to focus on doing what it takes to ensure their change is in the strike zone.
Ever ask yourself, how often do your throw your change for a strike? Fifty (50%) percent was the consistent number they BLURTED out. I think you know where I am going with this. Meaning most actually exaggerated the percentage higher and by the mere fact most looked down or away when they told me, they realized it was not good enough.
What surprised me was the number of pitchers who attempted to justify their inability to throw the change for a strike. Assuring me it was okay because the change was not their best pitch! So rather than find out why they had trouble throwing it for a strike the least path of resistance was to drop it from their arsenal.
Not good when the ability to change speeds is critical to the success of a pitcher. Don’t get me wrong, I love the curve/slider/cutter as much as the next coach, but too many will spend hours in the bullpen developing every off-speed and give up on the change. How about the fastball with movement is, especially since it is the toughest pitch to hit in baseball? NOPE!
I tell players all the time, if you don’t change something, nothing changes. So make some changes and let it begin with what you are working on. Develop your fastball and make sure you have a change-up you can throw for a strike consistently [e.g., 70% of the time] with the same arm slot and arm speed before working on a curve, a slider, or a cutter.
RECOMMENDATION: Instead of the Circle Change keep it simple. Check out Examining Grips with Dan Straily. He shows several grips which I believe are easier to control and just as effective. Meaning easier to throw for a strike and because of the grip comes in slower.
Remember, “a change is just a fastball with a different grip. Develop a grip you feel comfortable with then throw it like your fastball; same arm speed, same arm slot. If you are having trouble throwing the change consistently for a strike, change your grip.
So what is the real “Purpose of a Change?” To get the hitter to Miss-Hit the ball.
Until next Blog,