For young pitchers, mastering the traditional pitches of baseball is important to their success on the mound. The fastball and the curve are necessary pitching skills that they need to develop. However, adding the change-up to their repertoire of pitches can make them stand out from other pitchers on their team or in their league. The change-up is called the “great equalizer” of baseball. It is an off-speed pitch that is designed to throw off a batter’s timing because the ball is thrown much like a fastball, but at a slower pace. Even though the hand position is the same as a fastball, the change-up sets further back in the pitcher’s palm, which causes it to be thrown at a slower rate of speed. It easily deceives batters because it looks like a fastball from a distance, but as it gets closer to the plate, the batter can finally see that it is a slower pitch. However, many batters will be deceived and think a fastball is being pitched, causing them to swing too early. If you know how to throw a fastball, you can easily learn how to throw a change-up. There are two types of change-up grips, the circle and three-fingered grip.
The three-fingered change-up grip is similar to the four-seam fastball grip. The first three fingers of a pitcher’s hand lay across the seams. The pinky finger and the thumb should be on the leather under the ball. The ball is settled back against the palm, with equal pressure on all fingers. The arm speed and release point will be the same as a fastball, but the wrist should be kept stiff and the ball thrown straight down. With a circle change-up, there are still three fingers across the seams of the ball, but those fingers are the middle, ring and pinky. The index finger comes down across the thumb to resemble a circle or okay sign. This ball is also thrown in the same manner as a fastball. Many of today’s top pitchers throw the change-up including Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, James Shields of the Kansas City Royals, Jon Lester of the Oakland A’s and C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees. No pitch should have be thrown to the exclusion of others, but a pitcher who can throw a smokin’ fastball by a batter and then toss in a change-up will usually help win games for their team.