Pitch Count Strategies

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Pitch Count Strategies    

Every high school baseball pitcher is looking for better ways to work batters.  They know almost intuitively that success here will translate into wins and a low ERA.  To help you with meeting this goal, we have provided a list of tips that can help you work the count in your favor and have the hitters leaving shaking their heads.  Here, are our recommendations: 


1.  Alternate fast and slow pitches.  A fastball followed by a changeup is a great combination.  By changing the speed of your pitches, you keep the batter guessing and actually improve the appearance of your fastball’s speed.  Make sure your changeup is about 10 to 15 miles slower than your fastball to get the maximum benefit.  


2.  Go inside and outside with pitches.  Another popular strategy is to throw a fastball inside and follow it up with a fastball to the outside.  Then, throwing another one back inside.  This tandem works well for forcing batters to protect the whole plate and helps you keep them from crowding the plate. 


3.  Use batter’s last swing as a guide.  If he is late on a fastball, give him another one that is farther inside.  If they are way ahead of a pitch, slow his bat down with a slower pitch to the outside.  In this way, you use his strengths against him.  This is very effective at getting additional cheap foul ball strikes. 


4.  When you get a pitcher’s count, don’t be afraid to throw outside the strike zone.  Pitcher’s counts are counts where you have more strikes than balls.  In these situations, there is more pressure on the hitter to swing the bat.  Take advantage of this and don’t give them a good ball to hit.  The best ones are pitches that appear to be coming in the strike zone and dip away.  One example is a curveball that appears to be coming to the batter at the needs only to move completely out of the strike zone.  By having batters swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, you increase your chances of getting easy outs.                  


5.  Lead their top batters with off-speed pitches and lead weaker batters with fastballs.   

Generally, the best hitters of the opposing team will be the 3rd, 4th, and 5th hitters of their lineup.  For this reason, it pays to show a little more caution with them.  Instead, of giving them a good fastball on your first pitch to them, consider using an off-speed pitch to start with them.  However, it is very important that you must throw it for a strike. Getting ahead of these batters is mission critical to increasing your chances of success as a pitcher.   


6.  When in doubt, pitch low and away.  With all of these different strategies being mentioned, it easy to get confused and uncertain about where to throw next.  For this reason, when in doubt, throw the ball low and away.  This area is the toughest for most batters to get a good hit from and therefore, allows you a greater safety net. 


7.  Do not be afraid to pitch good hitters inside.  It is true this strategy is far more effective in the major leagues where you can actually break their bat by getting into their kitchen.  However, you can still have success in high school even with aluminum bats.  A great strategy is to have them really pull foul an inside changeup or fastball.  This is another example of using their strength against them.  They probably really enjoy crushing the ball 350 feet; however, you don’t care because they pulled it foul and, it just means you got one more strike against them.    


8.  Trick the batter into believing an off-speed pitch is coming by your grip before the pitch.  Often times, a pitcher’s success in a game comes down to how they do against a specific batter in a certain situation.  One strategy that will work more often than you think is using a little misdirection or deception.  This works by fooling the batter into thinking an off-speed or breaking pitch is coming when you are really throwing a fastball.  To do this, pretend that you are really wresting with getting the grip of the ball and make sure it is very overt so the batter sees this.  They will think, “Ah, here comes the breaking pitch, and you will completely surprise them with your fastball.  The only final caveat here is to make sure you are calm enough to throw it for a strike.  Most likely, the end result is the hitter will be caught staring as your fastball screams by for strike three.  


From this list, you can already find a few more ideas you would add to this list.  That is perfectly fine.  The goal here is to find ways to get you to work smarter and thereby be more effective.  Pick and choose from this list by going with the ones that you feel the most comfortable with on the mound.  After a little practice with them, you should see your confidence grow and mostly likely your wins as well.


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