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2 Seam and 4 Seam Fastball Charts

Posted on May 13, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

               RHP SEAM CHART                         LHP SEAM CHART   

       

When the catcher throws down the old number one and calls for a fastball there are a few general rules to be aware of when deciding whether to throw a 2 or 4 seam.  As you advance in the game your catcher is more likely to have a 2 seam fastball sign and a 4 seam fastball sign but when you are throwing to the Lokator you need to experiment with both fastballs to see what you feel most comfortable with.

As we learned in previous blog posts, the 4 seam fastball is generally a straighter pitch with a 1-2 MPH increase in velocity over the 2 seam.  The 2 seam or sinker generally has more movement than the 4 seam.  Some pitchers throw all 4 seam fastballs while others throw predominantly 2 seamers, but we believe pitchers should throw both.

Whenever you are trying to elevate the ball in the Red Box (RB) or in an opposite arm side Purpose Zone (7/8) a 4 seam is more likely a better option because you want to keep the ball up.  When you are throwing an arm-side Purpose Pitch there are a couple different factors to think about.  A 2 seamer could give you more movement and help you get the pitch inside further but you also take the chance on the ball moving too far in and hitting the batter.  On the other hand some pitchers feel more confident throwing the straight 4 seamer in there and taking movement out of the equation.

A 2 seam arm-side Freeze Pitch (9/10) is more likely to get inside on the hitter and has a better chance of jamming them, but it could also sink or move more than you expect and cause you to miss the Lokation.  An opposite arm-side Freeze pitch should generally be a 4 seam fastball for pitchers who are not yet learning advanced pitches.  If a beginner tried to command the 2 seam in the opposite arm-side Freeze Zone the ball would be more likely to move back over the plate and end in the Danger Zone.  You have to be very careful with movement of the ball in the Freeze Zones because both of them border the Danger Zone.

When targeting the Go Zone (1/2/3) it is our view that any pitch thrown down the middle of the plate (2 Zone) should have movement and this translates to a 2 seam fastball.  If you ask any hitter whether they would rather see a straight fastball down the middle of the plate or one with movement, every hitter would rather see the straight pitch.  The general rules say to throw the opposite arm-side Go Zone (1/3) with the 4 seam to keep the ball from moving back over the Danger Zone and throw the arm-side Go Zone (1/3) with the 2 seam to promote movement towards that side of the plate.  I personally threw 2 seam fastballs to the 1, 2, and 3 but I was a sinker ball pitcher, figure out what works best for you.

The same general rules apply for the Chase Zones 5 and 6.  Most pitchers throw the 4 seam to the opposite arm-side Chase Zone to keep the ball from moving back over the plate and on the outside edge.  It is more common to see pitchers throw the 2 seamer to the arm-side Chase Zone because the natural movement of the pitch will take it towards that edge of the plate. The Chase Zone 4 is best suited for the 2 seam fastball because the downward sinking action Under the Go Zone will be a huge weapon in many situations.  See the blog post "Benefits of the Ground Ball" for more information.

An easy way to start experimenting is to throw the 4 seam in higher Lokations (7-10) and Red Box to keep the ball up, change the hitter's eye level, and keep from getting more movement than you want.  Also keep opposite arm-side fastballs 4 seamers to make sure you can command that side of the plate without getting too much movement back over the plate in the Danger Zone.  Use the 2 seamer for the 2 and arm-side Go Zone along with the 4 and arm-side Chase Zone to promote movement towards that side of the plate.

Once you get comfortable with the general rules shown above it is very important that you experiment with both fastballs in all Lokations.  We emphasis working on throwing the 2 seamer in Lokations 1-6 and to the arm-side Freeze and Purpose Zones.  Most hitters would rather hit a pitch 1-2 MPH faster compared to one with more movement. We will revisit this topic in a later post to describe a few more variations and strategies involving the 2 and 4 seam fastball.  See you there. 

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Targeting K Zones

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Fastballs in the K Zone are very effective ahead in the count.  A fastball in the K Zone could be a two or four-seam chase fastball away from a hitter or a  two-seam fastball inside to the hitter.  Practice using the 2 seam fastball on both sides of the plate. 

In a double-play situation, a two-seam fastball could be thrown at the arm side third of the Go Zone and break to the K Zone after the hitter has already decided to swing. When throwing a two-seam fastball opposite arm-side, backspin is crucial to promote downward movement.  If the catcher's glove is set up in the K Zone and you hit the mitt, you have a great chance to get the strike call even if the hitter doesn't swing  

Hitters sometimes hit inside sinking fastballs at the K on the top of their foot or the inside of their ankle.  If this happens the last thing a hitter wants to see on the next pitch is the same pitch in the same spot.  Keep this in mind when a facing a hitter who fouls one off their lower body.

While ahead in the count, throwing a shorter, tighter, breaking ball, the pitch should generally start in the Danger Zone above the 2 Zone and break towards the K Zone.  Where to aim always depends on the size of the break on the off speed pitch.  

The K Zone is a great “backdoor curveball” Lokation.  This is typically a slower type breaking pitch that is thrown from a RHP to a LHB or vice versa.  This breaking ball is designed to end up on the outer part of the plate to the hitter and seemingly break around the strike-zone.  It's typically a slower breaking pitch has more break and has a better chance to start high and far enough outside of the strike-zone for the hitter to make the decision not to swing (give up) early in the flight of the ball.  Then it breaks over the outer Go or Chase Zone late in flight.

A change up in the K Zone should generally start in the outer-third of the Go Zone through the first half of the ball’s flight, and when the hitter has to make the decision to swing, the movement of the pitch will take it to the K Zone. Backspin, gravity, and natural movement will help the pitch break to the K Zone.

The K Zone can also be used opposite arm-side with the change-up although it is a much harder pitch to execute. Backspin is very important because a change-up with sidespin opposite arm-side can end up flat and in the middle of the plate just as the fastball will.

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Change Up

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

After learning to command the fastball in all three sections of the Go Zone with the two and four seam fastballs, it's now time to work on the change-up in the Go Zone. We have included the change-up grip that has proven most successful among pitchers we've taught. 

The change-up grip is a loose grip without any of your palm touching the ball.  It's a feel pitch. It takes touch, almost like a basketball shot. You can't have a basketball in your palm with tight fingers gripping the ball and expect to drain a 15-foot baseline jumper. Hold the ball softly with your fingers and use touch so you can get the shooters roll.  It's the same concept with a change-up. 

Hold the change-up with your middle and ring fingers with or across the seams. Your thumb is directly under the ball between your middle and ring finger. The index finger and pinky are resting on each side. Try to always keep the pinky above the height of the index finger on the other side.  This will keep your change-up from cutting like a curveball. 

Create backspin on the pitch to promote vertical downhill movement rather than flat horizontal movement. If you imagine a straight line from the middle of the rubber through the middle of the plate, and concentrate on taking your hand down through that line before release, it will create good backspin and vertical movement on your change-up. 

There are three parts of deception to a good change up, fastball arm-speed, a downhill plane on the pitch, and 8-12 MPH decrease in velocity from the fastball.  It is important to recognize that as long as the pitch is down in the Go or 4 Zone, it will be a quality pitch.  It does not have to be on an inside or outside corner to be effective. 

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Benefits of a Ground Ball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

There are many advantages to getting a ground ball over a fly ball or even a strikeout.  There are very few ground ball extra base hits and no ground ball home runs.  The wind blowing out plays little to no role when a ball is hit on the ground.  It only takes one pitch to get a ground ball out which will lower pitch counts and increase innings pitched.

Multiple ground balls early in counts keep your fielders and umpire in rhythm.  Your defense will be more active and focused, likely resulting in higher fielding percentages behind you.  The umpire will also be more likely to give you borderline calls if you are aggressive in the Go and 4 Zones early in the count.  Often times you have to prove to the umpire you can command the Go Zone before they will give Chase Zone strikes.

It is especially frustrating for the opponent when you can get ground balls early in the count the first time through their lineup.  If you can induce a grounder within the first couple pitches, they are not able to see, time, and track the movement all of your pitches early in the game. The longer the hitter stays alive in the count, the better chance they will have at solid contact.  Don't show your hand (all pitches) if you don't have to. 

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2 Seam Fastball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments


The grip on the seams of the baseball will determine the airflow around the ball while it is in flight.  This will effect the movement of the ball on the way to the plate. The two-seam fastball will have more movement than the four-seam. To get the best sink or vertical movement on your fastball, the spin on the ball should also be vertical instead of horizontal. Vertical spin is the same as direct backspin.

Sidespin on the ball will create a flat plane while backspin will create a sinking fastball. The two-seam generally moves down-and-in to a right-handed batter when thrown by a right-handed pitcher and two-seam thrown by a left-handed pitcher generally moves down-and-in to a left-handed batter.

The two-seam will be responsible for many of the ground balls you will induce. It will also help the downward plane of your fastball. When throwing a fastball in a fastball count, more times than not, the pitch should be two-seams to promote movement.

Whenever you aim for the 2 Zone with a fastball, it should be thrown with two-seams. If you ask a hitter whether he would rather see a pitch in the middle of the plate that was straight, or one that had movement, every hitter would rather see the straight pitch.  

One of the most important qualities of the 2 seam fastball is late movement.  The later in flight the ball sinks, the less time the hitter has to react to the movement of the pitch.  It doesn't take a lot of sinking action on the ball to move from the bat's sweet-spot to the bottom of the barrel, but it will take late movement. 

If the pitch has big and early movement (horizontal spin) the hitter will be able to recognize the pitch earlier in flight, time the pitch easier, and match the plane of the swing with the plane on the ball. Strive for short and late movement compared to big early movement on the 2 seam fastball.

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