So your pitcher is FINALLY starting to gain some confidence in her change-up! She’s locating it well, but batters are figuring it out. It’s almost like they know when it’s coming. Yes, it could be your pitcher isn’t disguising it as well as she could be, but maybe your pitch caller has become too predictable with it. Deception is a key component to pitching, and if the change-up is only being called on counts that are in the pitcher’s favor, that’s not fooling ANYONE!
Too frequently, pitchers only feel confident throwing the change-up when they’re ahead in the count. As batters get stronger, they’re going to know this and sit back on a change-up with a 0-2 or 1-2 count. The BEST time to throw this pitch is when the batter doesn’t expect it. Even a mediocre change can really do some damage when thrown at the proper times. Here are 4 times a pitcher could surprise a batter with their change-up.
Four Times a
Change-Up is Unexpected
1) First Pitch in an At-Bat
Statistics show that most batters (about 75%) will watch the first pitch thrown. If your pitcher has developed good control of her change-up, this is a great time to throw it and get ahead early in the count! Batters are not expecting it, and the element of surprise may entice them to swing and miss. Not to mention, it doesn’t allow hitters to get their timing down on the faster pitches coming later in the count. Hitters become anxious knowing they have to “look out for the change.” For those few batters who are ready to jump on the first pitch, the change of speed is unexpected and can often put them in the hole right away. Even occasionally, throw it for the first pitch of the game to set the tone and make the other team anxious from the start.
2) Back to Back
As a hitter, after a pitcher throws a change-up, many batters are thinking heat on the next pitch. So, they’re ready to swing early, but the pitcher throws it again. This technique especially works if the first change-up isn’t the best a pitcher can throw. Nobody would expect to see a second change-up if the first one was a ball. Calling it again also shows the pitcher that the coach has confidence in her ability on the mound and believes in her change-up.
3) Count is 2-0
A 2-0 count is a hitter’s count. Any hitter worth her salt knows that, most likely, the best pitch she will see in an at-bat is on a 2-0 count. Knowing that this may be her only time to swing at a pitch during this at-bat, she’s going to be eager to swing. Most batters are NOT expecting to see a change-up in this situation. A change-up on a 2-0 count will cause the impatient hitter to swing way too early. A pitcher that can execute a change-up in this circumstance can really change the momentum of the at-bat in her favor.
4) Count is 3-2
Yes, you have to be careful here! However, as stated in a previous article, a pitcher that can throw a change-up on ANY count in ANY situation is a “game changer.” The batter is swinging at anything close to the zone on a 3-2 count, so why not throw them something to upset their timing. After all, that’s what pitching is – upsetting a batter’s timing. In the video below, you can see Michigan’s Megan Betsa throwing her change-up on a 3-2 count.
Swings and misses are a huge part of a pitcher’s success and knowing when to correctly utilize the change-up can help immensely with improving this statistic. Regardless of when you decide to use the change-up, it’s important to vary how and when you use it. If you always throw back-to back changes, then that’s no better than always throwing it on an 0-2 count. If your pitcher always throws it on a 3-2 count, then expect batters to figure that out and hit it. Keep the batter guessing, throw off their timing, and create anxiety in the batter’s box. That’s how your pitcher will find success with her change-up!
If you’d like to learn how to throw a change up, then check out this article to get you started, or come train with us in person! You can book appointments online through our contact page. Simply click on the instructor’s name to see their availability. Out of town? No problem! Check out our page for out of town students here. You can also purchase our Advanced Video “Spin It Like You Mean It” to learn how to throw a change-up. Both the Basic and Advanced Videos are NOW available to stream online without having to pay shipping! Visit our online store to see all of our pitching tools and products to help your pitcher. For more videos with tips and drills, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and/or join our mailing list (green button below).