By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
You're ahead in the count 0-2. You are a typical high school pitcher that
has somewhat decent command of 2 pitches-fastball & curve. Let's say
that you are a RHP working to a RHH. What do you do next? Here are a
First of all, I hope that your catcher has been trained properly. As a
pitching coach, I would not want any pitch thrown above the knees in
this situation (the exception might be when you have an unbelievable,
blazing fastball that you haven't just shown him). So, your target (the
catcher's glove) should be held below the hitter's knees. Remember that
since you are on a mound, you are substantially "taller" than the hitter
and you are throwing on a downward plane. Since the ball is moving downward as it's approaching the target (either a fastball or curve) a pitch
that crosses the plate knee-high will hit the catcher's glove below the
knees. Your catcher can give the sign with his feet close together and with
his body upright but after the sign is given, he should spread his feet apart
and bend forward at the waist to make himself as "short" as possible. If the
glove is held low and he makes himself short, you, as the pitcher, will see a
very small/short image that will help you get the ball DOWN.
OK. You've decided to pitch down because a pitch at or below the knees is
usually the most difficult for a batter to hit well. Next, you have to decide
whether to throw the fastball or the hook. If you got him out on an 0-2 pitch
earlier in the game, he will be looking for that pitch again so just give him the
other one. Also, if you threw an 0-2 pitch that worked to the previous hitter
in the same inning (or even two hitters earlier) give him the other pitch.
Otherwise, why not go with the fastball since it's probably your most accurate pitch.
Let's say that you choose a fastball-down. You are either going to come
inside or go outside (you wouldn't groove one on 0-2, even if it's low).
If the hitter is really crowding the plate or if he leans out over the plate
while swinging, your catcher should set up on the inside corner. The hitter
shouldn't even be able to touch that! If the hitter positions himself at a
normal distance, the glove should be at least eight inches (maybe more)
off the corner. If the batter reaches out and fouls off the outside pitch,
you could consider coming down-and-in on the next pitch. Just make sure
that it's "in" enough if he's not crowding the plate.
Let's say that you decided to go with the hook. In this situation the hitter
probably wouldn't be surprised to see a curve. For this reason it should not
be thrown for a strike. Normally, the only time a curve should be thrown for
a strike is on fastball counts when the hitter is sure that he'll get a fastball. On an 0-2 count the curve should be thrown so as to breaklow-and-away.
This is certainly not the only strategy that a "two-pitch-pitcher" can use
for this situation but it usually works pretty well for my pitchers. Or you
could develop complete command of 3 pitches like Pedro Martinez.
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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