Log-in
Search

Chase Zone 4

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

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. 

Continue reading →

K Zones

Posted on April 12, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

The K Zones represent a true pitcher's pitch and obviously stand for a strike or a strikeout.  When the hitter is behind in the count they will expand their strike-zone to the Chase Zones and especially the corners of all three Chase Zones.  Hitting the K Zones make it even less likely the hitter will make contact if the pitch is swung at.  If the hitter does make contact, the possibility of them hitting it solidly is small.  

Commanding the K Zone doesn't rule out the possibility of a called strike if the umpire is in rhythm with the pitcher or has a generous strike-zone. If the catcher sets his target at the K Zone and you hit it, the chances for a called strike are much better. If the catcher is set up in the middle of the plate or on the opposite side and has to reach across the plate to catch the pitch in the K Zone, the umpire is less likely to call the strike.

The K Zone can be targeted for

  • Strikeouts in 0-2, 1-2 or 2-2 counts.
  • Fastballs Ahead in the Count
  • Off Speed Ahead in the Count 
  • Ground Balls
  • Impatient Hitters
  • First Base Open

When throwing a short breaking ball to the opposite arm-side K Zone you should generally aim the ball in the Danger Zone above the 2-Zone.  This will give the hitter the illusion that the pitch is hittable and in the heart of the plate while they are in an aggressive mode.  If the pitch has good tilt and depth it will break from the Danger Zone to the K Zone. This will make the hitter more likely to chase the pitch because the ball starts in the middle of the plate when the hitter is deciding whether to swing and breaks towards the K after the hitter has started their swing.

It is important to know how much you're breaking ball will break before initially aiming the pitch. If you throw a slider with a tighter, shorter break, you might start the pitch in the Danger when commanding the K Zone. If you throw a shorter curveball with more tilt and break then start the ball at a Freeze Zone to command the opposite arm side K Zone. A cut fastball may require you to start the pitch in the outer Go Zone for it to end up in the K Zone.  Understand how much your breaking pitches move so you can aim accordingly.

Generally arm side change ups that end in the K Zone are spending time on the plate in the Go Zone in flight.  This effect will entice swings from the hitter.  Change ups that end in the opposite arm side K Zone normally start out in the opposite side Purpose Zone before breaking back towards the K Zone and hitter's are not as likely to swing.    

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.  After two consecutive pitches in there they are set up for something in the outer Go or Chase Zone.

While ahead in the count and 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 an advanced pitch and much harder 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.

Continue reading →

 
Scroll to top