Win An 0-2 Battle
What's the best pitch in baseball? Strike one. You've probably had it hammered into your head how important it is to get ahead in the count. Statistics show that throwing a first pitch strike puts you in a position of advantage as a pitcher (based on a hitter's batting average in a 1-0 vs. 0-1 count). So, let's say you go 0-1 then get way ahead and end up in an 0-2 situation. A coach's biggest pet peeve? 0-2 hits! Avoid them at all costs...you have such an upper hand when you've earned an 0-2 count. You deserve an out!
How can you get that out? There are many schools of thought. Some pitching coaches tell you to "waste a pitch" and try to get a hitter to chase. I really don't like this philosophy. A pitch should NEVER be wasted. You can throw a pitch out of the zone, but it should be done with purpose. Maybe it's just a difference in terminology. My approach with an 0-2 count is to set a hitter up and be content if he chases. If you have command of your fastball, my absolute favorite pitches are fastballs a couple inches off either corner (depending on the hitter and your first two pitches). The 0-2 count is a classic off-speed count and, at lower levels especially, hitters are preparing for your breaking stuff. A nice little surprise fastball inside on them can tie them in knots. Remember, we are NOT throwing a pitch that a hitter can do anything with! Not even a cheap blooper.
An 0-2 pitch should have a PURPOSE.
Throw a competitive pitch that a hitter can't handle (not something over the plate, unless it's UP) or that sets the hitter up for a 1-2 put away pitch.
Let's say we execute that 0-2 pitch in on them, but they are surprised and just lay off. Then you're still in a position of great advantage at 1-2. From here you can do many things. If you have executed the previous pitch, you can go with a little cut fastball in on them again, or maybe even a breaking ball down. At this point, you are trying to get the out (not necessarily the strike out). Reason? Because we don't want to get too deep into a count on a hitter and throw too many pitches. General rule of thumb is on or out in four pitches.
Go right after a hitter 0-2! Avoid throwing something that is easy for a hitter to just "spit" on. Try to get your weak out or strike out...execute a good sequence and have the hitter heading back to the dugout frustrated that he just got beat!
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