How To Throw A Filthy Two-Seam Fastball

Do you know how to throw a two-seamer?

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a two-seam fastball that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...

But first, check out this two-seam fastball from pitcher James Shields:

James Shields two-seam fastball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

I love that movement right there as Shields gets Neil Walker with this two-seamer that curls back over the plate for the backwards K.

The 2 seamer is a pitch thrown much like the 4-seamer but with different finger placement and with a different function. It is called a "two seam" because when thrown, the pitch only has two seams cutting through the air towards the target. This allegedly causes the ball to move more but also a hair slower.

I say "allegedly" because some pitchers throw their two seamer a couple miles per hour slower than their two seamer but many throw both pitches just as hard. The index and middle fingers are now placed in line with the seams with the thumb, again, being placed underneath.

To develop a great fastball like James Shields, it's important to remember this:

A 2 seamer should be thrown at or close to maximum velocity while providing added movement.

Two-seam fastball grip

Here are some pictures of different two seam fastball grips...

Two-seam fastball grip
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com

Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Index and middle fingers going with the seams, thumb underneath.
  • Still a fastball so all force is applied right through the middle of the ball creating backspin with a little extra pressure on the index finger.
  • Ball should run in and possibly down to the pitcher's respective pitching arm side.

More images of two-seam fastball grips

Two-seam fastball grip images
Image source: baseball-pitching-tips.com

4 secrets to a great two-seam fastball

  1. Properly place the fingers with the seams.
  2. Put slightly more pressure on the index finger.
  3. Exaggerate pronation at release.
  4. Maintain a good arm slot; not too high, not too low.

To get this pitch to be effective and run the way it's supposed to, you should place slightly more pressure on the index finger than the middle finger. It should be noted that length of fingers and overall hand size can play a role in how much the ball may move, to some degree. By placing more of the pressure on the index finger, it will naturally cause the ball to move in the direction of the pitching arm side at the release point and subsequently towards the plate, creating the "running" movement.

The wrist naturally pronates through release. Try to exaggerate pronation on this pitch and you're more likely to execute it with great movement.

Keep in mind that arm slot plays a role in amount of movement on this pitch. The lower one's arm slot the more the ball is likely to run.

Steven Ellis
former pro pitcher

Out of all the baseball pitching grips, fastball grips are the easiest to master and be consistent with. This can be a very easy pitch to learn because it isn't thrown much different than the four seam fastball.

Other than adding a little pressure on the index finger, finger placement is the only real difference between the two. There are no real structural changes in wrist or hand action (although eventually you can try to overemphasize the pronation of the wrist), so this pitch can be taught at the same time a four seamer is taught very early on. Remember, baseball pitching grips are very important so be sure to give them the practice they deserve.

DID YOU KNOW?

For the two-seamer, the first and second fingers lay across the narrow area between the two horseshoe-shaped seam outlines.

It is released the same way as the four-seamer, but the slight difference in the pronation of the hand causes it to rotate off-center; where a four-seamer rotates 6-to-12 on a clock face in the batter's view, a two-seamer still rotates bottom to top, but might be 4-to-10.

That causes the ball to sink to some degree, though this is not considered a "breaking pitch" and is thrown at full velocity.

It's called the two-seamer because, due to the grip, the batter sees only one pair or horizontal seams spinning, instead of two.

This pitch is slightly more difficult to locate than the four-seamer, but still is thrown with good control.

How to throw a two-seam fastball video

Put it all together, and it looks like this...

Here's a two-seamer from Masahiro Tanaka that freezes former Yankee Robinson Cano on the inside corner:

Masahiro Tanaka two-seam fastball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

And check out another great two-seam fastball from pitcher James Shields:

James Shields two-seam fastball
Image source: pitcherlist.com

I absolutely love the movement on these pitches!

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about gripping and throwing a 2-seam fastball with simple, step-by-step instructions...

Once a pitcher learns how to grip a four-seam fastball, he should add a 2-seam fastball to his pitching arsenal.

Here's what it looks like...

Check out this two-seam fastball from MLB pitcher Noah Syndergaard:

Noah Syndergaard two-seam fastball
Noah Syndergaard two-seam-fastball

Unlike the four-seam fastball, the two-seamer tends to have some movement to it.

A right-handed pitcher will usually see the ball move down and in toward a right handed hitter—or down and away from a left handed hitter, as seen in the GIF above.

Did you notice how Noah Syndergaard's 98 mph two-seam fastball moves down and away with some hard ride?

This is known as pitching arm side movement.

Although Syndergaard's fastball is 98 mph, the two-seam fastball tends to be a bit slower in velocity than the four seamer.

However, a good pitcher can make up for this loss of speed with the movement generated by the pitch.

How to grip the two seamer

  1. To grip the two seamer, position the ball a bit deeper in your hand than you would a four seam fastball. This will allow for more movement to the pitch.
  2. Place your index and middle finger on the two narrow seams.
  3. Place your thumb comfortably on the underside of the ball.
2-seam fastball grips image
Image source: thecompletepitcher.com

When throwing the pitch, release the ball much like you would with the four seam fastball.

The grip will allow the ball to move towards your throwing hand side, and may drop the velocity a few miles per hour, creating a good pitch to mix in with the four seamer.

Many pitchers like to throw the two seamer inside to hitters. A right handed pitcher will throw it inside to a right handed hitter.

The natural movement makes it easy to get the ball in on the hands, and makes it difficult for the hitter to make solid contact.

Getting the right amount of movement on the two seam fastball takes practice.

Practice with the grip during warm ups and in bullpens to master this pitch.

Once you can comfortably use it in a game, you will love the extra movement and flexibility a second fastball can offer.


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