After the batter swings mightily at a straight, high and tight fastball and misses for strike two, both he or she and the pitcher know exactly what pitch is probably coming next – a low, outside changeup. Regardless of this intuitive knowledge, the batter is at a serious disadvantage if the pitcher locates the changeup perfectly. If the pitch sails in waist high, the fans sitting beyond the outfield fence are about to get a souvenir.
Known for throwing explosive fastballs, CC Sabathia, Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum can pull the rug out from underneath the batter with a well-timed changeup. However, a common misconception about the changeup is that it can only be effective complementing a scorching fastball.
Tell that to Jamie Moyer, who, at 49 years young, has earned a spot in the Colorado Rockies starting rotation, even after not throwing a single pitch in 2011.
And while he barely tops 80 miles per hour with his fastball, he credits a lot of his success to his elusive changeup. Moyer told The Denver Post that he believed the changeup is the best pitch in baseball.
Moyer holds the ball primarily with his pinky, ring and middle fingers on top of the ball. He places his thumb underneath the ball, and his index finger rests on his thumb. Changeup grips vary from pitcher to pitcher, but the most important thing is that they are confident in it and can locate it with pinpoint accuracy.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon told the news source that if he were running a youth baseball team, "The first thing I'd do is teach youngsters the changeup."
Coaches should be sure to help their young players are confident in pulling the string with a changeup. It's important to remind pitchers to conceal their pitches in their baseball gloves so that they don't tip off their pitch selection to the batter.