Jack Leathersich
Take It Slow

Major League Pitchers Show Little Leaguers How to Slow Things Down

When it comes to pitching, most kids assume faster is always better. After all, if your goal is to make the batter whiff, you’re better off throwing a 100-mph pitch than a 60-mph pitch, right? Of course, it’s not the simple. As a few MLB knuckleballers and other masters of sick nasty pitches that don’t require heat have proven, slow and steady win the race. This season, many more pitchers are lowering the heat. And your Little Leaguers could learn something.

Take a look at Cubs center fielder Jon Jay. He was called up to pitch relief during an 11-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Jay once clocked in at more than 80-mph in high school, but he obviously lacks the heat of a professional pitcher. Rather than trying to keep up with the pros, he decided to fool batters with his changeup. Despite never throwing faster than 66-mph, he was able to fool several hitters with his stellar delivery.

Yesterday, reliever Fernando Abad took a similar approach, tricking Adrian Beltre into not swinging at his 61-mph pitch. Known as an eephus in the majors and often teased, these low-speed junk pitches can really fool batters.

Such examples of slow done right serve as a reminder to all aspiring pitchers that a lot of the battle on the mound is mental, and having the maximum number of tricks in your arsenal is essential for getting the win. Little league pitchers tend to throw fastballs in the 50-60 mph range, with some reaching up to 70 mph. But learning how to lower the speed and focusing on hitting spots is an essential skill for pitchers, one that can not only teach them valuable skills. Because as these major leaguers demonstrate, slow can be just as helpful as fast.

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