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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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Command Off Speed Pitches in the Go Zone

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Commanding off speed pitches in the Go Zone behind in the count will expand the number of pitches a hitter has to protect against.  Hitters don't know what to expect when you are throwing two or three pitches in the Go Zone, this makes timing more difficult.  When a hitter knows you can't command off speed in the Go Zone they will expect fastballs when ahead in the count, timing will likely be good, and a more precise Lokation will be required to get the out.

If you can't command an off speed pitch in the Go Zone, then hitters can eliminate those from pitches they will swing at.  When you get behind in the count 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1 (hitter's/ fastball counts) and can't throw off-speed pitches for strikes, then you are limited to throwing fastballs behind in the count.  The fastball is exactly what the hitter is looking for while they are ahead in the count.  This will decrease pitch possibilities and make the fastball look slower (decreased perceived velocity) because the hitter is expecting it.  

The fewer pitch possibilities a hitter must think about, the more likely he will expect or sit on the pitch he is going to see. This helps a hitter's timing and pitch recognition. This is why it is important to have the ability to throw the change-up or curveball in the Go Zone when even (0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 3-2) or behind in the count. 

Ideally, a change-up looks more like a fastball's flight path, which is why we recommend mastering the change up in the Go Zone BEFORE the curveball. Why not master the pitch that looks the most like a fastball and doesn’t put extra stress on your arm first?  On average hitters do the most damage when you are behind in the count.  It’s not a coincidence that almost every starting pitcher in the Big Leagues has an off speed pitch they can throw in the Go Zone in any count.  

Older pitchers should work on throwing breaking pitches at two different speeds so the hitter can’t immediately judge the speed when he recognizes the breaking ball out of your hand.  A "get me over" breaking ball with less velocity is good to throw even or behind in the count because the hitter is probably expecting a fastball.  It doesn't need the velocity or sharp break in a fastball count.  But throwing that same "get me over" breaking ball ahead in the count when the hitter is expecting off speed, they would have a better chance at solid contact.

The slower type breaking ball is also a good backdoor pitch Lokated in the arm-side third of the Go Zone when facing an opposite-handed batter. It should start up and away from the hitter in the Purpose-Zone and end in the Go or Chase Zone away from the hitter. The faster breaking ball will generally be a sharper, later break starting in the Danger or Go Zone and breaking towards a Chase Zone or an opposite handed batters back foot, used more often with 2 strikes. 

There is no need to paint the corners with an off-speed pitch when you are even or behind in the count.  This translates to generally targeting the 2 or 4 Zones when throwing an off-speed pitch while even or behind in the count.  Aiming for the middle of the plate and down (2 or 4 zones) gives you room for error when you have to throw a strike because if you miss six inches to the right or left it's still a strike.  As long as the pitch is below the top of the Go Zone with good arm-speed, a downhill plane, and correct velocity, the hitters chance for solid contact decreases. 

Generally when throwing off speed pitches behind in the count, you can get away with less precise locations.  If you threw a change up in the Danger Zone in a 2-0 count, it would be less likely to get hit than a fastball in the same area, especially if the first two pitches were fastballs.

In another example, if you are behind in the count 2-0 and throwing a fastball you might have it throw a fastball to the 1 or 5 to have a good chance to get an out.  But if you were to throw a change up in that same count you could target a bigger area such as 1-4 to get the same result because the hitter it most likely expecting a fastball while they are ahead in the count.

Throwing off speed pitches while behind in the count will allow you to throw at bigger areas because hitters are looking for the fastball.  You need better Lokation on the pitch when the hitter is expecting it or has good timing.  You don't need the best Lokation when the hitter does not know what to expect or timing is bad.  Good timing makes Lokation more important and bad timing allows for less precise Lokation.  Commanding off speed pitches in the Go Zone will disrupt timing every time.

 

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Recognize Breaking Ball Movement

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

When commanding the breaking ball in the Go Zone it's very important for you to recognize how much it you're breaking ball moves. Some pitchers have a tighter, shorter break compared to the bigger, slower break of others.  Once you become familiar with the movement of your curveball, you can determine where you need to aim the ball for it to end up in a Go or Chase Zone. 


For bigger breaking balls like a slow curve to hit the Go Zone, aim those pitches at the arm-side 7 or 8 Purpose Zone.  Start these pitches outside of the strike-zone and let them break back to the Go Zone.  For a smaller breaking ball like a slider to end in the Go Zone, start the pitch in an arm-side 9 or 10 Freeze Zone.

 

 

 

Strikeout breaking balls that end up in a Chase Zone or Under the 4 Zone should look like a strike to the hitter when they are making the decision to swing.

They should generally start in an arm side Freeze Zone and break to a Chase Zone or off after the batter has started to swing.  This means you will generally aim in the Danger Zone for bigger breaking balls to break to the Chase Zones or Under.  Aim the shorter breaking ball somewhere in the Go Zone to get the desired break towards a Chase Zone or Under. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breaking Ball

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

The Curveball Grip shown here is one of the most commonly used grips among professional pitchers. However, it is important to experiment with different grips that may work for you.  This particular grip has your middle finger and thumb with the majority of your total hand pressure. Your index finger should have little to no pressure on the ball with your thumb on the seam underneath.

Just before releasing the curveball, concentrate on pulling down on the top seam with the pressure of your middle finger while pushing up with the thumb on the bottom seam. This creates a higher percentage of top-spin, tilt, and depth on the ball for more vertical movement. The vertical movement you create will keep the ball off the plane of the bat and will look more enticing to hitters because the break stays on the plate instead of breaking sideways and off the plate.

As with all off speed pitches, it may take some time to get comfortable with the grip that works best for you.  Whichever grip you decide on, make sure you do not tip the hitters off by doing something like wiggling your glove while you secure your grip every time you throw an off-speed pitch.  As you move up the ranks in the game, hitters will pay closer attention to you movements and body language so they can get a better idea of what pitch is coming next.

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4 Seam Fastball

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

Generally the four-seam fastball is a straighter pitch with a 1-2 mph increase in velocity over the two-seam. When throwing opposite arm-side, righty away from righty or lefty away from lefty, you have the option to throw the four-seam straight fastball to avoid the ball moving back over the middle of the plate. The four-seam fastball opposite of arm-side is a good lock in pitch early in the count.

To execute a lock in pitch, you must have good extension and a good release point to get the ball to the other side of the plate. Once you find that release point and are “locked in”, you can begin to throw your other pitches in relation to the four-seam fastball release point with extension.

It is important to note that it can be very beneficial to be able to throw the two seam fastball in Zones 1-6.  The 4 seam opposite arm side will help keep the ball straight if you WANT it to stay straighter.  If you would rather have more movement then it would be a good idea to practice the 2 seam in all those Zones.

The 4 seam fastball is generally used when you need to elevate the ball to the top of the strike-zone (Freeze Zones) or above the strike-zone (Purpose Zones, Red Box). Some pitchers prefer to use the 2 seam fastball when throwing the arm-side Purpose Pitch so the movement of the ball helps get the pitch inside.  But others have found that the 2 seam can move too far inside and hit the batter.  Experiment with the 2 and 4 seam fastball in all Zones so you know what you do best.

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