This means that increasing the vertical movement on a pitcher’s fastball can significantly improve their swinging strike rate. As expected, Giolito’s increased arm angle led to more vertical movement and less horizontal movement. This increase in vertical movement was partly responsible for his jump in swinging strike rate with the other part being his 2 MPH increase in fastball velocity. This increase can be attributed to Giolito’s offseason training which involved throwing weighted baseballs and his mechanical work with the Rapsodo camera, which caused him to shorten his arm stride . Both of these methods are proven to increase velocity while simultaneously reducing the arm stress created from throwing thousands of pitches each year.
Like the Cutter, the 2-seam also breaks late close to the plate and is utilized to induce soft contact or ground balls. Fastballs with lots of backspin can help to offset the effects of gravity on the baseball by reducing the amount of drop on the pitch due to the Magnus Effect. This can give batters the illusion of the vaunted “rising” fastball as the pitch drops less than normal .
To grip the four-seam fastball, place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball. Either way, there are not enough publically available resources to determine 4 seam vs 2 seam fastball if this grip change could generate more spin or movement. Given what we already know about spin rates, however, different pitch grips have been proven to make these types of increases happen.
For the sake of sample size, I only included pitchers with a minimum of 50 high 4-Seam fastballs to ensure that their swinging strike percentage was not inflated by factors such as facing a batting pitcher. It is also important to note that less vertical drop is considered good for fastballs and is therefore classified as positive vertical movement. In this shot, you should notice the direction of the baseball’s seams and the Major League Baseball printing.
One of the key contributors to Josh Hader’s dominance is his deception. As seen in the picture above, Hader does a great job hiding the ball from the batter behind his body before releasing each pitch. This makes it difficult for batters to pick up the baseball until it is too late. With Hader also generating vertical movement from his low arm slot and averaging 95.5 MPH on the radar gun, he has been able to become arguably the best reliever in all of baseball.
This is the state of focus the batter will naturally be in at the plate. Hard Focus is for a short amount of time and comes right as the pitcher begins their wind up or a little after and remains until the ball is hit or crosses the plate. Hard Focusing on release helps one pick up the ball and in turn the seams, as soon as possible. This is the most common pitch in softball and is thrown the straightest.
A 2 seamer should be thrown at or close to maximum velocity while providing added movement. Explore my pitching workouts and throwing programs for players who work hard and don’t make excuses. His pitching coach is using the radar gun and I posted the question because it usually is the opposite in speeds for the two pitches. I was thinking the same thing that he may be gripping the ball tighter or have it choked back more than the two seam. I’ll have to look at his grip this weekend and see if there’s anything I can detect.
Cole’s fastball grip in Pittsburgh is the left image whereas his grip in Houston is the right one. There is a noticeable difference in the direction of the stitches which could lead to slightly different movement patterns. After joining the Astros in 2018, it appears that Cole made his release point more consistent and slightly raised his vertical release point.