The Four Types Of Pitchers In The Major Leagues Today

This comes right from an e-mail conversation I had with The Man With The Golden Arm earlier today with regard to all of the sinker/slider pitchers in the Jays system. He encouraged me to cut and paste it as a post, and so here we go. It'll be embellished soon, don't worry.

1. Straight fastball/curve guys (who also have a usable change).

2. Straight fastball/change-up guys (who also have a usable breaking ball).

3. Sinking fastball/slider guys (who also have a usable change).

4. One-pitch guys. (Mariano Rivera, Tim Wakefield).

The days of four-pitch repertoires look to be gone.

Here's a more specific reason for so many sinker/slider guys:

Watching pitchers proceed through the Minors, the two main areas of advice dispensed by every pitching coach are 1) throw strikes (in order to limit pitch count) and 2) keep the ball down and get ground balls (in order to limit home runs).

It's pretty clear that nobody gets more groundballs than a sinkerballer, and so every pitcher coming in is quickly taught to throw a sinking two-seam fastball in addition to his normal four-seam fastball.

The next step is to come up with a strikeout pitch. Well, a change-up is a tough pitch to throw effectively -- a pitcher needs to try all sorts of different grips before one feels right, and no pitch is more susceptible to a home run than a flat change-up. (Even good change-up pitchers give up a ton of home runs.)

So you go with a breaking ball... and for whatever anatomical or mechanical reason, it seems like pitchers have a lot easier time learning a good, hard slider than a 12-6 curveball.

Okay, that and the fact that when a star has success doing something a certain way everyone wants to copy. In organizations where the star pitcher is a control expert, there are more control guys coming up through the system. In organizations where the star is a fireballer, there are more fireballers in the system.

As for the Jays, yeah, I'm talking about Roy Halladay.


  1. Morrow has a legit chance to be a fireballer. He just needs time...

  2. Mattt,
    I'm loving the thought of Morrow and Drabek throwing in the mid 90's sandwich between Marcum, Romero and Cecil.
    Is that the 2011 rotation right there?

  3. That's a mighty fine rotation. All of those guys are looking very good.