How To Throw A Split-Finger

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Jeff Samardzija splitter pitching gif
Jeff Samardzija throws a splitter. In this article, you'll learn how to throw a splitter.

This tutorial will explain how to throw a split-finger the safest possible way. The split-finger pitching grip is the brother of the forkball. When this pitch is thrown, it appears to be a fastball, but then drops off the table usually right under the hitters bat. Split-fingers are typically thrown faster than forkballs, and will usually put less stress on the throwing arm.

Forkballs are known for causing elbow stress because of the awkward splitting of the fingers, and the downward snap. The split-finger does not require a pitcher to spread the fingers as far, making it less stressful.

Some popular split-finger pitchers include Roger Clemens, Kelvin Escobar, Dan Haren, Freddy Garcia, Carl Pavano, and Roy Halladay to name only a few.

Here's what it looks like:

Splitter grip
Splitter grip images
Although the split-finger is designed to put less stress on the arm, it still has the potential to do damage. This pitch should not be thrown by youth pitchers.

In fact, many MLB teams are not supporting the utilization of the split-finger anymore. Split-finger popularity reached it's peak from the 1980s to the early 2000s, but it's now being strayed away from.

Pitchers are focusing more on learning how to throw cut fastballs and sinkers because of the limited amount of stress on the arm. If you are just dying to throw a split-finger, then here are the steps.

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How to throw a split-finger step by step (6 steps)

  • Acquire a baseball.
  • Grip the ball like you're about to throw a two seam fastball.
  • Then spread your index and middle fingers.
  • Your fingers will rest outside of the seams on the white leather.
  • Just remember, the further your fingers are, the greater danger it places on the elbow.
  • You will throw this pitch with the same exact arm speed and motion of your four seam fastball.

If thrown correctly, the split-finger will be about 6-8 mph slower than your fastball, will have sharp downward movement, and can be a great strikeout pitch or groundball producer.

I believe the split-finger would be utilized by more pitchers if didn't have the injury potential because it truly is a nasty pitch. Hitters have a very difficult time reading it out of the hand. One of the ways a hitter can pick up this pitch is from a reduction of spin on the ball. Both the forkball and split-finger will spin significantly slower than a fastball.

An important thing to remember about the split-finger is that it shouldn't be your primary focus. Every pitcher should be attempting to develop consistency with their fastball and changeup. In my experience, I resorted to a split-finger because I was having a difficult time with changeups. If I could go back and change my thought processes, I would have just continued to practice my changeup.

To understand the potential threats of throwing this pitch, Dan Haren has been cited saying he will throw his split-finger about 20 times per game. Even Haren understands the injury potential of this pitch.

I recommend focusing on a changeup, and make acquiring a split-finger your last option. I hope this gave you a better understanding of how to throw a split-finger in the safest possible way.

Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.

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