1. HOPPING OR RISING FB - This pitch appears
to go up (it probably does not go up but creates the
illusion that it does). There have probably existed very
few pitchers who have ever thrown fastballs that
actually go up, in the sixty feet, six inch distance
from mound to plate. But there have been many that have
such great rotation and arm-hand speed as to generate a
fastball with such great activity at its end, that it
appears to go up (in effect this pitch does not go
down). This is thrown basically with a 6-12-type
rotation. One to seven rotations can also create this
2. RUNNING, VEERING OR TAILING FASTBALL - This
is perhaps the most effective fastball there is,
particularly if it possesses velocity and late movement.
For a RHP (right-hand pitcher), this moves to the right
and away from a LHB (left-hand batter) and towards a RHB
(right-hand batter). The reverse is true for a left-hand
pitcher. Nicking the comer with this pitch can cause
"called" strikes, because the batter neglects the late
3. SINKING FASTBALL - This basically has a
two-eight type of rotation and the ball moves in and
down. It is a great pitch for grounders. Some pitchers
with real good hand speed can create a "POWER SINKER"
where they get outstanding sinking movement on a high
velocity pitch. Kevin Brown (Dodgers) is a good example
of this. However, speed is certainly not necessary to
create a strong sinker. In many instances the reduction
in speed (to a point) creates a better action. The ball
placed low in the strike zone aids the action.
4. CUT FASTBALL - The "cutter" is the "new kid
on the block" and a pretty good one at that. Call it a
breaking pitch or a type of fastball. I prefer the
latter because the pitch is deceitful. It looks like a
fastball right to the end. The late break gives it its
character and effectiveness.
5. SPLIT-FINGER FASTBALL – This pitch is a
form of a fastball, but surely can be considered a
breaking pitch, and for some it can be a change-up.
Because it is thrown like a fastball and can be thrown
hard - for purposes of this discussion, it will be
referred to as the "splitter" and put in the fastball
Let's dissect the following types of fastballs -look
at the various grips, pressure points and spin
directions, and how they may be thrown.
a. It is gripped across the wide part of the
seams - using four seams with the horseshoe to
the right (right-handers) - horseshoe left for
left handers. It is thrown through the "heart"
or middle of the ball.
b. Extremely "tight" rotation is imparted
with fingertips exerting a pulling or clawing
c. The wrist "pops" or accelerates through
the release point - a burning sensation on
fingertip ends suggest good spin effect.
d. The ball can be secured more towards its
inside to encourage movement.
e. This is an idealistic pitch - one that
must be thrown very hard to overcome its
straightness. Extremely tight (fast) rotation
makes the ball appear smaller and is seen less
well by the batter. Many pitchers feel they
control the ball better with this grip.
II. TAILING FASTBALL – This is the gold
standard for high quality fastballs. If one can
incorporate the maximum velocity and get the ball to
''veer'' particularly late in the zone, he can
perhaps live by this pitch almost exclusively, as
long as it is located well. A three-quarter arm
motion helps this fastball to veer. An overhand
motion requires the index finger to be brought to 11
o'clock and pressure exerted here to develop the
one seven rotation necessary for the "TAIL."
Getting on the inside of the ball can help tailing
movement. These actions can be taken.
a. Fingers can be tilted toward one or two
o'clock and a one-seven type rotation enhanced
by a three-quarter arm angle.
b. The baseball is moved to
the right, so that the fingers are to the left
and the ball is thrown overhand or three-quarter
plus. Pressure is placed on the index finger.
c. If thrown straight
overhand the ball is tilted to the left at 11
o'clock as ball is released. This causes the
thumb to go to the right, which in the pronation
of the wrist, should always be done on a
III. SINKING FASTBALL – This type of fastball
can be very effective when velocity is lacking, and
an alternative fastball is desired. This pitch
actually moves better when velocity is removed. A
fastball in the 78 to 83 mph range when sinking can
be extremely effective, particularly, if kept low.
Ground balls are the inevitable result of this pitch
when it is thrown properly. It is thrown in the
a. Three quarter or less (3/4) arm angle.
b. Pressure on the index - on the inside of
the seam (two-seam grip).
c. A two to eight type of rotation is
d. Ball must be kept at knees in strike zone
for best action on ball
Gravity gets into the act on this pitch. If this
pitch is thrown high, it tends to straighten out and
because it is lacking in velocity, it is relatively
easy to hit.
IV. CUT FASTBALL – This is a fine line pitch
– too much and it is a slider - too little and it is
a straight fastball. It was thrown in the past
without having a name. The "cutter" is thrown in
a. Pressure is placed on the middle finger.
b. Very slight slider spin is imparted. The
end of the axis for right handers would be near
the vicinity of 8 o'clock.
c. The ball is thrown hard with a tight spin
- with the direction of rotation
being mainly 11 to 5. (RHP)
d. Pressure comes more on the outside of the
e. The velocity should be within 2-3 mph of
A cutter is subtle and sneaky - it breaks late
and looks suspiciously like a regular fastball. The
main difference with the cutter and the slider is
that the slider has a more defined spin - almost
bullet like, whereas a well-thrown cutter is almost
unrecognizable. The beauty of this pitch is that it
acts in the strike zone making it a very difficult
pitch to "read."
This pitch can be used from a right-hander
pitcher to a lefty - on the inside of the plate
thereby jamming him on fists and negating full
extension of the bat. To a right-hand batter it can
be thrown on outside of the plate, thereby causing
the hitter to chase the ball somewhat.
V. SPLIT FINGERED FASTBALL - The splitter was
truly the pitch of the nineties, rejuvenating
pitchers careers and giving many pitchers careers
and giving many pitchers the desired extra pitch to
be consistent winners. The ball is thrown like this:
a. Fingers spread in forkball-like dimension
- (not as far as the classical forkball)
b. Ball should slide out with a tumbling
motion - this gives the ball its downward break.
c. Arm action and speed should be the same as
regular or less on top and this makes the pitch
difficult to read. Batter assumes it is a
fastball but the ball breaking down essentially
reverses the action of a regular fastball.
d. Ball must be kept down in strike zone to
insure its break.
Some pitchers get an additional break inward or
sometimes outward making the pitch doubly difficult