The 4 Zone is the most important edge of the strike-zone to command. It is black to represent the bottom edge of the strike-zone and runs a close second in importance to the Go Zone. It is crucial to your success to miss down. If you're trying to throw a strike low in the Go Zone and you miss, you want to miss in the 4 Zone or below. It will be less likely to get hit hard and have a better chance of getting an out.
Hitting the 4 Zone guarantees a downhill plane on the pitch. This will lead to more ground balls and swing and misses. It will also make it more difficult on the hitter to perceive the velocity of the pitch. When you miss targeted Lokations and throw above the Go Zone, the hitter will be more likely to get his bat on the plane of the ball for a longer period of time.
It is better to throw borderline strikes in the 4 Zone than to throw a sure strike above the Go Zone. It is as important to miss in the correct Lokations as it is to hit the spot your targeting. The closer the pitch is to the hitter's eyes, the easier it is for them to measure up the pitch and get the bat on the plane of the ball. This results in balls being driven in gaps and out of ballparks.
The two-seam fastball that starts in the bottom of the Go Zone will often end up in the 4 Zone. The late movement of the ball makes it dive below the Go Zone after the hitter has already made up his mind to swing. This pitch comes in handy in many situations including:
- a double play situation
- a man on third with less than two outs
- throwing a fastball in a fastball count
- first pitch to any hitter
In these situations, you can think about the 4 Zone as the catcher sets up and gives the target.
Be aggressive early in the count and work in or below the Go Zone, get as many one-pitch outs via ground balls to an infielder as possible. Roy Halladay has been very successful at throwing the sinking fastball in the 4 Zone to induce groundballs early in counts. It keeps pitch counts down, fielders in the game, and also produces the highest double-play possibilities.
The 4 Zone is also a good place for curveballs and change-ups at any point in the count, any pitch that ends in the 4 Zone has spent time in the strike-zone during flight. It is impossible for a pitch to hit the 4 Zone and be called a hanging pitch. Hanging pitches are pitches that are easy for the hitter to recognize and make contact with. Hangers are usually above the Go Zone with little movement (Danger Zone) just waiting to get crushed.
It’s important to command breaking pitches in the 4 Zone because it usually means that the pitch has good "tilt" or "depth". Tilt is the top-spin or vertical movement of the curveball while it is crossing the plate. A breaking pitch with good tilt will look more appealing than one with very little tilt. One with no tilt (flat) will go from side-to-side and move off the plate earlier for the hitter to recognize. This will make it easier for the hitter to take the pitch or get his bat on the plane of the ball if he decides to swing. Many pitches in the 4 Zone will result in a ground ball, a called strike, or a swing-and-miss.