In order to be a good hitter at the higher levels of baseball, there is a need to have good timing. This is why in MLB they have spring training and it takes about that amount of time for the hitters to get it together.
Hitters are taught to look at the release point of the pitcher and expect the ball to be thrown from an imaginary box. The hitter then has to identify the pitch, velocity and what he is going to do with it.
The pitcher is the opposite; he wants to mess up the timing of the hitter. This typically gets done with an assortment of pitches cutters, curves, changes and etc.
Most pitchers have the same delivery and arm angle with each pitch. They stand on the same part of the rubber with each pitch thrown, and don’t vary one bit in approach or delivery.
I want to go back to the 60s and the 70s with a pitcher named Luis Tiant– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Tiant I loved Luis he was a showman on the mound and was always trying his best to deceive the hitter. He would look back at second base before a pitch while in his windup. With runners on he would be in his stretch and before he came set he would bring his hands down in a stop and go fashion, he would wiggle them on their way down. He would get set in several positions, and the hitter never knew when he would pause and pitch. We would be playing wiffle ball later in life and would be copying Luis! My best friend the Big Lew would imitate Luis all the time; Lew was a real good wiffle ball pitcher! Luis would give interviews after the game smoking a big cigar, and was always a very entertaining interview. Matter of fact my buddy the Big Lew is very entertaining and has smoked a big cigar from time to time! Maybe they were cut from the same cloth? Check out Luis– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md2k4NdOPmA—
Don Drysdale – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Drysdale was a pitcher from the 50s and the 60s that we all imitated when we were kids. Don was a big man that would throw over handed and would drop down and throw sidearm to right handed hitters. There was a lot of times the sidearm pitches were curves, it was like he was throwing from the third base to right handed hitters. He had many big league hitters’ knees buckling, with his big curve!
I believe a pitcher can move up the ladder by using some of the techniques that I will explain in this article. The current baseball people will probably think I am nuts, but that is ok. I want to with all my energy to improve the game and promote the game to the maximum!
I think we will start with throwing from different angles. If you would talk to a good pitching coach, he will tell you that you can have your ball act different ways, if thrown from an overhand to submarine motion.
We can say your normal delivery is straight overhand and you are facing a right handed hitter in a clutch situation. Just think what his reaction would be if you come sidearm with a curveball. The pitcher has to understand that any time you can get out of the hitters box, change your release point, it is to your advantage. It is up to you to keep the hitter guessing where the ball is coming from. You want him to be confused and to throw off his timing. It will be easy to change speeds from all of these angles. I think the speeds can be changed just by taking a little off on some pitches.
Everybody will be different, some may change angles 10% of the time and others will be 50-75%. The guy who has the power arm will only do this with maybe 10% of his pitches. But in the back of the hitters mind is the possibility of a pitch being delivered out of the box.
The pitcher who has hit his ceiling may be a 50-75% pitcher; this may be his chance to move up a level or more!
How about some deception in your windup? For example if you are in your full windup and you put a little hesitation before you release. This can really mess with the timing of the hitter! You will need to vary your hesitation, slow to quick. Be like Luis and look back at second base, you can even hesitate in this delivery. How about a real herky jerky delivery, with a hesitation? You need to have your throwing hand start from a different spot. Show the ball behind you and begin your throw from low to high. You can even wiggle your throwing hand with some hesitation. Why not different release points, some lower and some higher. Remember the hitter is taught to look for the box and pick up the release point.
Quick pitch to your hitter and really get him angry. You will want to frustrate your hitters, and get them mad, this works better for you. You will have a play with your catcher where you will call two pitches at a time. The second pitch will be a fastball 90% of the time. What will happen is on the second pitch, instead of going into a full windup you just take the ball when he is in the box and throw the pitch. He is expecting you to look for a sign and all of a sudden here comes the pitch! This can work also if you wait for him to settle in and you act like you get a sign and then you just throw the ball with no windup!
The quick pitch from the stretch can be done. It is basically the same way, you call two pitches and you receive the ball from the stretch position, as soon as the batter steps into the box you get in your set position and throw. You will need to give a slight hesitation so there is no balk called. He is thinking you are going to look for your sign. The runner or runners will not know what to do; chances are they will have small leads.
The hitter will do his thing at the plate, to stay loose, and if you can pitch the ball when he is doing a little warm-up swing and surprise him. Do not do you windup, wait for his bat to start to come forward and just throw the ball!
Wiggle your glove and cause as much confusion as you can before releasing the ball. Your responsibility is to throw the hitters timing off as much as possible. Use your glove as a shield to hide the ball as long as possible. They will not know where the ball is coming from and if you can use the glove as a shield, this will benefit the pitcher.
I would pitch from different parts of the rubber. A righty is hitting you may get on the far right and crossfire “throw across your body” and throw a wrinkle or a fastball. The hitter will think you are throwing from third base. Experiment with throwing from different parts of the rubber. This will give the hitter a different look and will keep him thinking.
Pitchers use to do this more often years ago and I do not understand why you don’t see much in today’s game. Why not throw a curve and a slow curve? The hitter is thinking curve and he gets a slow curve, he will look like a fool!
The main thing is to change speeds and be as deceptive as possible.
This information should be looked at by all pitchers who have hit their ceiling! You have nothing to lose. Just try a couple of my ideas it might help you get to the next level.
Here is a good article about Adam Wainwright of the Cards and what he does to hitters. This is written by Derrick Goold of the STL. Post Dispatch. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/wainwrght-mixing-up-delivery/article_2eb38db3-cd82-590f-b70b-1fa949b3714c.html