By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Pitching inside is a very important subject, therefore a must topic to hit on.
Pitching inside is an element of pitching that needs to be accomplished to become effective. More and more hitters are diving over the plate to reach the outside pitch. Pitching inside can become a real weapon by setting up other baseball pitches. For example, off-speed pitches away, or fastballs up or away.
The one challenge, however, is that you have little room for error. Pitching inside is a comfort level that few pitchers possess.
The reason why it is hard to hit the spot in is the combination of pitching mechanics and pitching confidence. Pitchers sometimes want to open their front side up early so that the ball will go inside. Pitchers will also drop their elbow resulting in pushing the ball, instead of throwing the ball, especially to right handed pitchers to righty hitters. Same thing with left handed pitchers to left handed hitters.
Getting around these mechanical flaws is achievable with a few simple steps.
First get comfortable with throwing inside to a lefty, if you are a righty pitcher or a lefty throwing inside to a righty hitter. Even if you have to start by throwing breaking balls. Throw curves inside, then sliders, then hard cutters. These pitches are very effective.
Many lefties make a living on burying the cutters and fastballs in on the hands of right handed hitters. It is very tough for a ball to "get away" if you are pitching to the opposite counterpart, because you are keeping your mechanics consistent.
To get over pitching inside to a righty hitter if you are a righty pitcher, and so forth for a lefty, I would not abandon the same rules as above. You can start by pitching hard cutters in. Up underneath the batters hands is effective.
Secondly, throw that sinker over the plate, and have it ride down and in. For the most part, I would keep away from throwing the straight 4 seam fastball inside. That's when the hitter can really turn on that pitch. If the ball has good action, it will keep riding in right off the hands.
As a baseball pitching coach, I love the outside pitch, it still is a hard pitch for a hitter to really get a good solid swing on. But if you pitch one to a hitter who leans over the plate, he can really gap one in the outfield. So you must pitching inside.
Try to throw the inside sinker or cutter when ahead in the count. If you fall behind, the hitter is looking for a pitch to turn on, to pull. That inside pitch may be smoked. That's when you throw outside and/or down. When you are ahead in the count, he will be on the lookout for something off-speed. Therefore leaving the inside part of the plate very vulnerable.
Another time to pitch inside in the order is early in the count, so in the back of his mind is that inside fastball, making breaking balls and the outside corner pitch that much more effective.
With those two things said, the 0-1 count comes to mind. Early in the count so that it may come again and ahead in the count so because he may be looking for something off speed. Plus if you miss in, you can go away for the possible 1-2 count. Then he's yours. Better yet, if you hit that 0-1 pitch with a strike he's yours again! Sets up for anything.
The inside pitch is effective when the confidence is there and when ahead in the count.
If you'd like to receive more of my best tips and techniques to throw harder with better control while reducing the risk of injury, I invite you to subscribe to my free baseball pitching tips here: www.pitchingtips.com/free
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