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The few times I get a chance to catch a pen for my son we play a game with the simulated batters where he owes me $.75 for a first pitch ball and I owe him $.50 for a first pitch strike. I owe him $.25 for a simulated K and he owes me $1.00 for a simulated bb. So far he's even because he hasn't given up any walks, but he's 40% on the first pitch strikes.

I've tried to get him to work middle in and middle out when he isn't ahead in the count and rely on a bit of wildness/movement to limit the number of pitches down the middle. His first strike percentage in games has gone up a bit but he still has a tendency to go 2-0 before focusing on strikes at times.
Last edited by CADad
Cup, shinguards, mask, and since he buried a curve that got me in the chest, a chest protector.

Keeping the ball in the infield doesn't seem to be much of a problem for mine, except for the occasional 2-0 pitch. Of course in his most recent winterball game he gave up 3 infield hits and a ground out to the first 4 hitters.
I don't have too much general philosophy to add to this discussion; on the other hand, here is a practical tip from Tom House that has worked, and worked, and worked, for my son:

Early in a game, try throwing a high percentage of 0-0 breaking balls. By midway into in the game, change the 0-0 pitch to a higher % of FBs.

The upsides are: Very few batters are sitting on, or will swing at, a breaking ball on 0-0. Thus, if the pitch is a strike, it's almost a free strike. If the 0-0 breaking pitch is a strike, the hitter's attention has been altered and he is set up for your 0-1 FB. Even if the 0-0 breaking ball misses, it is a relatively risk free spot in any sequence to "practice" getting the breaking ball into the strike zone. Most pitchers justifiably hate to go 2-0 or worse with a hitter, but 1-0 is not that stressful.

The downsides are: If the pitcher really doesn't have a decent breaking ball, the opposition will realize that quickly and go up 1-0 far too often. Then, they'll too often be okay sitting on the FB. The reason for adjusting the strategy mid-way into a game is obvious--hitters adjust, so pitchers should remain ahead of hitters' adjustments.
Originally posted by Texan:
Originally posted by BOF:
Great idea. Going to try it. However I am going to charge him $5 or every knot on my shin...

I'll add $10 for every broken toe (and yes, I wear shinguards that have "toe protectors"), and $20 for each time he busts by left thumb. I'll be rich...

Ever put any thought into catching the ball?
Wait until y'all's boys are throwing in the high 80's with lots of movement. Then we'll see about some of these comments... Big Grin

Heck, CADad, I even want to use a catcher's mitt when playing catch these days. The extra padding comes in handy.

It's easier on the hand if I don't catch the ball, hr. For some reason, at my age it is harder to get down & catch those low ones when sitting on a bucket.

As CADad pointed out, it's those inside two seamers that are so tough on the left thumb. And even the heavy duty Nokona catcher's mitt can only do so much.
Last edited by Texan
CADad, my son was playing with a couple of your teammates at Oxnard College on Friday. He was the closer. He threw 4 strikes before he threw a ball. He had 2 outs with his 1st two pitches. The 3rd batter laid off a nasty 2 strike knuckle curve that bounced on the plate. It was so fat and juicy I don't know how he didn't bite. The batter worked for a full count then dropped a single over the 2nd baseman. My son K'd the last batter on 4 pitches.
Hate to pound this one to death but last weekend this was again shown to me how important this is:

We are at a tournament/try out for some of the top 16U kids in the West. We ended up playing the "B" team and "A" team for one of the top 5 - 16U teams in the country.

At the start of the "B" team game they had one of the best looking 16U pitchers I have seen warming up, kid was probably 6'4" nice long clean delivery, nice fast ball with nasty slider and curve. I thought to myself "this is going to be one tough day". Guess what? Could not get his first pitches over so the kids just laid off his nasty stuff until he had to throw a strike and they made him pay. He was gone after 3 and we beat them handily.

Next day playing the top team, kid on the mound looked OK, nothing special, looked hittable. Guess what? He was in the zone all day and his defense did their job. We did not score a single run off the kid.

We tell our hitters and pitchers that at each at bat you can have three types of strikes: a hitter's strike, a pitcher's strike (pitcher's best pitch), and an umpire's strike (a borderline pitch that could go either way.) We do not want to throw a hitter's strike when we are behind in the count and the hitter expects it. Early in the count the hitter does not have as strong of an idea of what's coming if you mix it up. We look to get ahead early. It could be a fastball on the outer half, a change-up to get a foul ball, or a curve to a first pitch swinger; it depends on the hitter. I have found that most kids are not prepared to hit when they first step into the box. Often when they swing, it is not their best. We challenge and see where a team is. We once threw an entire game by starting every hitter with a first pitch fastball right down the middle; they never hit it so if they don't adjust, we don't need to either. Another game we never threw a pitch in the strike zone because the team swung at any fastball they felt was close. Challenge early and see what the opponent is doing that day.
Those are good comments, hsballcoach--I really like your ideas of challenging the opposing team very early on to find out if there is a consistent pattern to their AB approach on a given day.

That strategy is very likely to pay immediate dividends if the opposing coaches have given their squad some type of cookie-cutter advice about how to approach their ABs against you.

If it turns out thatt the opposition players are always allowed a highly individualized approach to their ABs against you then you'll find that out quickly, too.

Good stuff!
Just saw this on my other favorite baseball website Smile and thought I would share it. Joe Sheehan has done a nice job of categorizing the class of pitchers and hitters and the pitches they see and throw.

The real interesting part of this article is in the imbedded link in the third paragraph to an article by Sal Baxamusa. It is about first pitch strikes and batters success rate on 1-1 pitches put in play. It is actually higher on a 1-1 count that got there by ball - strike.

OK...... I relent.....lets now change the thread to "first pitch balls"

My question is, how much should a pitcher "give in" to get the first pitch strike?

I realize it depends to some degree how good their stuff is relative to the hitters they are facing, and I recognize the value of a "get me over" first pitch curve in some situations but let's stick with the first pitch fastball for this discussion.

Should a pitcher be trying to hit a corner on the first pitch with their fastball or should they simply be trying for the outer or inner half of the plate?

This will be especially important for him to figure out this weekend as they're playing a team that has won multiple national championships and will probably make a run at it again this season.
If you look at the original question the poster states he realizes the importance of a 1st pitch strike. Stats have shown this if you look at the overall picture. The link shows you a similar story.
To answer the question I think you have to be creative. The odds are high that a pitcher who has had it drummed into his head to throw a 1st pitch strike is going to throw a FB. I would rather not do that depending on the batter and the skill/strengths of a pitcher.
If you face a weak batter you can afford to go after him with a 1st pitch strike but a strong hitter can be more selectiv and creative. This is not the same as being incapable of consitently throwing 1st pitch strikes. There are batters/situations I would rather throw 4 straight balls to.
If you look at the statistics YOU MUST COMMAND THE STRIKE ZONE. This is critical, very simple if you don't your dead. Does not mean you must grove it - no. I was actually surprised by the article that showed on a 1-1 count ball-strike that there was a 40pt lower average for the next ball in play over a strike-ball 1-1 count. Take the time to read both in articles in detail they talk about pitch selection to weak vs strong hitters. Very good stuff.

As an example, my son pitched for the Varsity squad last week as a fill in for a week-end tournament as they needed some additional pitching. (He is a Freshman) Ended up closing one of the games. Now granted this was for only one inning, but they were the No 1, 2, 3 batters.

He threw 11 pitches 9 for strikes and set them down 1-2-3. Since he was coming in behind a hard thrower they pitched backwards. CH to batter 1 1st pitch. Curve to batter 2 1st pitch. Both strikes, both swing and miss. Fastballs behind them, both for strikes, both looking. Both hitters were so confused they had no idea what was coming next. Weak grounder to third, weak fly ball to SS, pop up to third for batter 3.
Yes you do have to command the strike zone but the guession is about giving in.
I can site examples of both situations were my son pitches out of the zone and others were he throws strikes. Last season he threw his 1st 14 pitches against a nationally ranked D1 college for strikes. It depends on how his best stuff is working and it doesn't always work. No pitcher is on all the time.
Here is a clip that he fell behind 3-0 and came back into the zone. This was pre college against an elit team. He threw his out pitch even at a full count to get the strikeout. My point is that you can't be afraid to walk batters under certain conditions¤t=1ASTROS.flv
[QUOTE] My point is that you can't be afraid to walk batters under certain conditions

Took a look at the video over the week-end. Nice job. Your boy is pitching the next level(from HS) up and I am sure you are proud of him.

We basically agree the only difference is view point or maybe just wording. I think as a pitcher you have to be fearless in the zone as Perry Husband calls it. So instead of approaching it from the point of being afraid of walking someone a pitcher needs to have a stong mental approach and not be affraid to throw any of his pitches to get some one out. If it ends up out of the zone or gets hit thats just baseball. Your son demonstated that he was comfortable throwing his breaking pitch in any count and was successful.

Again just wording, but I think the underlying mental approach is critical for pitchers.
Yes I agree. The importance of being able to throw 1st pitch strikes is statistically proven over time. My view is that there are times when you are better to approach a certain batter in a given situation and the 1st pitche strike is not so important.
My son is a JR in college and he called last night. (Looking for money) He had just taught a bucnh of young pitchers the fundamentals of pitching at a camp put on by the college. He stressed the ability to throw 1st pitch strikes and said if you are facing the best hiiter on the team with bases loaded. You know 1 thing for sure . This guy wants to take you out with a bases lpaded homer. Don't make him a hero. Keep everything out of his zone even if you give him a free pass. Make him swing early /late and off balance. Give him stuff that he can't make solid contact with and possibly will double up a base runner.
This is the type of situation I am talking about where the 1st pitch strike is not nececarily a good idea.
My question is, how much should a pitcher "give in" to get the first pitch strike?

This is the question and that is why my answer was what it was.
Also you didn't expect me to give in without a fight. I have been aware of the stats for many years but I still would prefer a pitcher to think about what he is doing on a batter/situation basis. There are days my son has trouble throwing a strike like the time he faced Missouri State as a freshman. He walked and hit batters and nothing went right. The coach talked to him on the mound and left him in. After the game he just smiled and said he had no feel for the ball. Even his FB was moving around too much. He gave up half the ERs that season in that 1 inning.
Thats BB.
A pitcher should never "give in" to the hitter ..

The 3rd pitch is no different then the first pitch. You still have to make a quality pitch. And I want all my guys pumping strikes. As many as they can. Keeps your defense in the game also. The fastest way to the showers is the guys who cant get the ball over. Puts hitters in the count they like. (FB Counts) Be aggressive in the zone but work down. Once your ahead in the count, then you make them hit the border line strike. I just feel like if your stuff isnt good enough to beat the guy first pitch then you might be at the wrong level. Doesnt mean throw all FB 1st pitch. GET AHEAD- STAY AHEAD, you will win many games. I think you would be amazed at how many 1st pitch strkes the guys like Maddox throw. He has never been a blow you away type guy but I assure he issnt giving in to anyone. He will however make the quality first pitch. Also help when you do miss that you have the abilty to pitch backwards. 1-0 2-1 Changeups for strikes when the hitter is in the hitters Fb count doesnt hurt him either. For me, 1st pitch strikes is the name of the game when it comes to the hill.
I saw this article and thought about this thread so I am resurrecting it for prosperity(and maybe CADad might be still lurking and pop in)

For you Twinkie fans this is one good reason why your team is still in the hunt. For the poster who was talking about a knuckle ball and his son: note the comment that no Twins pitcher throws a KB or a split finger.

And finally they throw all of their pitches for strikes in any count…..;_ylt=Aqd394jsZz2pZUHl6...&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

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