The Change-Up Is the Ultimate Equalizer
By Mark Melancon
Spalding Pro Staff member, Pittsburgh Pirates’ Relief Pitcher
(This is the first of three of Mr. Melancon’s points of view on the change-up. The second and third will appear in future issues of the Coach’s Box.)
Sometimes called the “dead fish,” the change-up keeps hitters from timing the fastball. A quality change-up is by far the best off speed pitch in baseball. A hitter cannot tell the difference between a fastball and change-up because both pitches have the same plane, rotation, and arm speed. A hitter has to sit fastball, guess location, and adjust to off-speed pitches. When there are no other differences in pitches except velocity, hitters stand little chance. It is when pitchers change their mechanics, slow their arm, or leave the pitch up in the strike zone, when change-ups become ineffective. There are only so many things a hitter can do to beat a pitcher and those usually include hitting mistake pitches and guessing location. Hitters can’t cover everything, yet a quality change-up can do everything to mislead the hitter.