Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Over pitching (Part 1)

July 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Pitching

I recently had two conversations with two different people on the same day.  Both were about pitching.  The first was with a high school pitcher and the second, about 30 minutes later, was with a first round draft pick and former major league pitcher.  If I just gave you the gist of the conversations, my guess is many would think the high school player was the major leaguer and vice versa.  That’s because the complexity of what was talked about was much higher with the high school pitcher.  And that’s the problem with many young pitchers.  And sometimes their coaches as well.

This brings up a concept called “over pitching.”  Over pitching can involve a number of issues but it really boils down to two main things:  thinking too much and making pitching more difficult than it has to be.  I’ve written about those things before but my two conversations make it something worth mentioning again.

The conversation with the high school kid started innocently enough when I asked him, “How did you throw this year?”  His response was something like this:  

I did ok.  My fastball was fine.  I was able to throw my four-seamer to righties very well and my two-seamer to left handers.  I generally tried to keep the four seamer to righties to make sure the pitch did not run back to the batter’s bat.  To lefties, my two-seamer ran a bit which took it off the barrel.  My change-up was ok but I only throw it to lefties because once again, I don’t want it tailing back to the barrel of right handers.  I got most of my strikeouts on my curve and slider and now want to get my cutter to the point where I can really tie up the hands of left-handers.  I’m trying to get the feel of a knuckleball or at least spiking my curveball too.

Not bad for a kid who just finished his sophomore year in high school, huh?

Now let’s compare that with the story the major leaguer told me 30 minutes later about his first day in the major leagues.  It went something like this:

When I got there I was nervous as hell.  Ivan Rodriguez sat me down immediately and said “just throw the ball down the middle of the plate.  Your slider will break to one side and your sinker will move to the other.  Just throw both pitches down the middle.  That’s all you have to do.”

Did you read that carefully young pitchers?  No scouting reports about opposing hitters.  No higher level thinking.  No need for six different pitches.  Just throw the ball down the middle.  One pitch moves to one side.  The other pitch goes to the opposite side.  

Folks, it’s not rocket science.  Throw strikes and keep the ball down.  It works at every level.

Tomorrow: Part 2 – Examples of over pitching in game situations 

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