Types of Baseball Pitches

By / 28 January 2023 05:24 AM

MLB has had some amazing pitchers over the years like Christy Mathewson, Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson
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There are different types of baseball pitches that the pitchers throw toward a hitter to catch them off guard and have the strikeout.

The different types of Baseball pitches are 1. Changeup 2. Curveball 3. Cutter 4. Eephus 5. Forkball and More.

Pitching is one of the most important aspects of the game, and many would agree that the pitcher is one of if not the most important positions in baseball.

A pitcher is seen as a franchise leader for any team, and since it is the hardest position to play in the sport, many pitchers are put under a lot of pressure to perform well and come up big for their team.

To do so, they must be in their A-game and defy the opposing offensive players, the hitter, or the batter. Pitchers regularly train to hone their skills and develop their attributes.

When they stand on their mound during a game preparing to throw a pitch, they have many ways to deliver the pitch toward the hitter. The different styles and manners in which the pitchers throw a ball toward the hitter standing on the home plate are recorded and emulated by many.

We have several different types of pitches that have been thrown throughout the history of the game. Some pitches are faster while others need to be thrown slower to be effective. Some try to throw a curve ball, and others want to pitch a straight knuckleball.

Anyhow a ball is pitched, the end goal for every pitcher is to make sure that their pitch takes out the opposing team's hitter off the game, gaining an advantage for their team in the process.

There Have Been Different Types Of Pitches Over The Years

Pitching is an art and those who execute their pitch perfectly often become successful in striking out the opposing hitter.

Many pitchers have tried many different ways to pitch a ball over the years, which has created several divisions and subdivisions of different pitching styles.


As the name itself suggests, fastballs in baseball are those types of pitches, which are pitched with high intensity.

It is one of the most common types of pitches that have been in practice in baseball since the very early days. Fastball is further divided into various different types of fastballs that the pitchers prefer to pitch as per their liking and the requirement of the situation.

Legendary Nolan Ryan pictured throwing a fastball, the most common pitching style in baseball
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Here are the different types of fastballs used by the pitchers in the major league:

4 Seam Fastball

The 4 seam fastball is regarded as one of the most used pitches in baseball. This fastball type is also used as one of the initial learning drills for any aspiring pitchers.

Pitcher places his index and middle finger on the perpendicular seam for the 4 seam fastball grip
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The four-seam gets its name from the sewing in the ball. The pitcher holds a grip on the ball with his index finger and his middle finger placed on the perpendicular seam. The hitter sees a four-seam rolling toward him when the pitch is thrown.

This fastball subtype goes as fast as 85 to 100 miles per hour and is straight as an arrow.

2 Seam Fastball

Similar to the 4-seam fastball, for the 2-seam fastball, a pitcher has to place his index finger and the middle finger against the two seams or with the two seams.

When a 2 seam fastball is thrown, the hitter will see a two-seam rolling and the ball could or could not make any movements while in the air. The ball movements depend upon the airflow.

The index and middle finger needs to go with or against the seams for a proper grip
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2 seam fastballs are often thrown 80 to 90 miles per hour on average.


A cutter in a baseball is a variant of a fastball, where the pitcher has his grips on the ball with his index and middle finger on the perpendicular horseshoe seam.

However, unlike the four-seam fastball, here the pitcher will have his two fingers slightly placed on the side of the horseshoe with a tilt in the ball while throwing. A cut fastball comes in between a 4 seam fastball and a slider.

A cutter can go up to 85 to 95 miles per hour and is regarded as one of the toughest pitches to learn.


Sinker is a fastball type, which will have a movement downward as the pitch is thrown toward the hitter.

A sinker fastball is similar to a 2 seam fastball. A 2-seam fastball will have an arm-side movement when thrown whereas, a sinker will have a downward movement.

Most pitchers have their own grip. But generally, for a sinker, one needs to have their index and middle finger with the two seams at the skinny part of the ball, where the horseshoe begins. Also, the pitcher's thumb needs to be tucked just below the index finger on the inside part of the skinny seam of the ball.

A pitcher's throwing mechanics also depends on if the ball will sink or not. Sinker goes from 80 to 90 miles per hour.


Split-finger fastball or simply splitter gets its name from the grip pitchers have on the ball before pitching it. For a splitter grip, the index, and middle finger of the pitcher has to be split on the laces of the ball.

When throwing the splitter pitch, the throwing motion is similar to the regular fastball however, throwing it a little slowly helps make an impact on the ball.

The splitter goes straight and falls or breaks down its straight motion right when it reaches the hitter on the home plate. Splitters usually go up to 80 to 90 miles per hour.

Breaking Balls

Moving aside from the fastballs, another most common and generally used pitching style is the breaking balls.

Unlike the fastballs, which usually travel straight, the breaking balls will have continuous movements either sideways or downwards in the air while pitched toward the hitter at the home plate. Breaking balls are slower than fastballs.


Curveball is the staple of breaking balls pitching style. Curveballs are one of the most popular types of pitches when it comes to pitchers as well as fans of the game.

Curveballs make it difficult for the hitter to predict what the ball will do next. When a curveball pitch is thrown, the hitter won't see the curve on the ball until it's too late.


The hitter only has a split second to think of his next move and it is during that moment, a proper curveball will help defy the opposing offensive players during a game.

For a grip on the curveball, the pitcher's thumb and middle finger are placed across the laces of the ball with the index finger as support. The main two fingers that come into play while pitching a curveball are the thumb and the middle finger. Also, the wrist plays an important part because the flick of the wrist is what generates the spin on the ball.

A curveball goes around 70 to 80 miles per hour.


Another common breaking ball pitch is the slider. Slider is pitched slower than the usual fastball, however, there is a little more speed in it than the curveball at 80 to 90 miles per hour.

For the slider grip, the middle finger of the pitcher is placed on the seam whereas the index finger is just placed close beside it. When a proper slider is pitched, it laterally distances from the hitter at the very end, making him miss.


The next pitch on the breaking ball pitch type, the Slurve is a combination of both the curveball as well as the slider.

The grip on the ball is just like a curveball but the throwing mechanism for the slurve is similar to that of the slider. A combination of these two techniques will make the ball curve with a little more lateral movement at around 70 to 80 miles per hour speed.


Screwball, also known as the fadeaway is a breaking ball pitching technique, which is rarely seen nowadays.

A screwball breaks in the opposite direction of a regular curveball. To throw an effective fadeaway pitch, the pitcher has to use his arms and throwing hand in an unusual way and needs more flexibility.

A common pitching style back in the day, the modern era pitchers have all but avoided the screwball as their go-to pitch. Hector Santiago, who last played for the Seattle Mariners was the only modern-day player known to pitch the screwball.

Hector Santiago used the screwball as his go to pitching style
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Screwball when pitched has the movement opposite of a slurve and comes in at a speed of 65 to 75 miles per hour.


Another subdivision of the type of pitches is the Changeups. Changeups are those pitches, which are pitched as if it were a fastball but in reality, the speed on the ball is much slower.

Changeups are often pitched in order to trick the opposing hitters into thinking they're getting a certain pitch. Looking at the pitcher, the hitter might assume and already make up his mind on what he will do once the ball is released.

Hence, a changeup helps the pitching team to catch the hitter off-guard and hopefully strike him out.


Forkball is similar to the Split-finger fastball. In splitter, the index finger and the middle finger would be split on the laces of the ball but in the forkball, the finger split needs to be off of the lace and on the leathery part of the ball.


The goal is to slip the ball out of the finger and have no tight grip on it as one would normally have while pitching a fastball. A forkball travels at around 75 to 85 miles per hour and will have a much more gradual downward movement.

Circle Changeup

In a circle changeup pitch, the pitcher holds a grip on the ball by placing the index finger and the thumb on the side of the ball. The rest of the fingers will be holding the ball.

The grip isn't as firm in this pitch as it is on other pitches. The throwing motion for this pitch is similar to that of a fastball. However, the pace of the ball is much slower.

With 70 to 85 miles per hour, the changeup is usually used by pitchers with long hands as those who have smaller hands will have difficulty holding the ball properly.


For a palm ball pitch, the ball is placed firmly on the palm of the pitcher with their fingers tightly holding the ball. When thrown, the palm ball is identical to a fastball and moves similarly.

However, the pace of the ball is diminished significantly at 60 to 75 miles per hour speed.

There Are Some Unorthodox Ways Of Pitching The Ball

Apart from all these mentioned pitching styles there are some other types of pitches that are considered different and unusual.

Some of the pitching techniques which were in use during the early days or are in use now, that didn't fall into the above three categories can be listed into their own separate category.

Throughout baseball history, there have been many players who have tried different tricks and styles to fit them better or to match their needs. Hence, as a result, we have several pitching styles which are considered unique and different.


One such pitching style is known as the knuckleball. Knuckleball is a very unique style of pitching.

A grip on the knuckleball can be made in multiple ways. A pitcher can have their fingernails gripped onto the leathery part of the ball with the thumb supporting the ball. Also, the ball can be gripped with the knuckle or the fingertips.

When releasing the ball, all of the gripped fingers need to be let go together and in sync for the pitch to work. A perfect knuckleball will have no rotation on the ball but a violent movement, making it difficult for the hitter to judge where the ball will end up. Even the catcher may find it hard to catch such a pitch.

Red Sox pitcher prepares to pitch a knuckleball
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Knuckleball is one of the toughest pitches to master and those who do it successfully are few and far between. It travels around 60 to 70 miles per hour.

Eephus Pitch

It is one of those pitches which isn't used regularly or at all in today's game. Eephus's pitch is thrown, unlike any other pitch.

It is a high-arching throw, which comes down at a slow pace. However, if the hitter is aware and is in a proper position, Eephus is one of the easiest pitches to play.

Hence, pitchers need to be conscious as to when they will use the pitch. Sometimes, it can be used to catch the hitter off-guard but most of the time, this pitching style might not favor the pitcher.

Moreover, there are some pitching styles that come from Japan. Pitches like the Shuuto and the Gyroball were invented and made popular in Japan and are often used by their players in the major leagues.

Many Pitches Have Been Disqualified

Some pitches in baseball have been such that the major league had no choice but to identify them as illegal pitches.

Using the pitch to intentionally hurt the opposing offensive players was in use back in the day. These types of pitches are identified as beanballs. The major leagues have understandably illegalized such pitching practice.

Gaylord Perry was known to use spitball during his career
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Another trick pitchers used to try in order to gain an advantage over their opponent was to alter the ball with foreign objects and substances. For example, the spitball was in use during the 1960s and prior. Pitchers used to use their saliva to alter the movement of the ball and gain an advantage.

Hence, the league banned the players from trying that.

Who Are The Greatest Pitchers?

Many great pitchers and amazing talents over the years have worked hard on their skills and brought to us these amazing pitching styles.

The greats over the years are identified with the pitches mentioned above as their signature moves and many have used these playstyles to have success in their career.

Legends such as Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, and Randy Johnson, among others are known as some of the best to ever do when it comes to pitching the fastball. Their powerful pitches and hardest throws have been etched into the history books and fans enjoy them to date.

Clayton Kershaw is regarded as one of the greatest curveball pitchers of all time
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Similarly, when it comes to breaking ball pitches, Clayton Kershaw, Bert Blyleven, Sandy Koufax, and Greg Maddux among so many others out there are known as some of the most excellent curveball experts of all time.

Pitching is an integral part of the sport and these legends and their pitches have added immensely to the sport with their contributions being huge.

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