Baseball Eephus (EP)
In baseball, there are many different pitches that can be thrown by pitchers, some being more traditional than others. Perhaps the most untraditional of all pitches is the eephus pitch. An eephus pitch, when used correctly, can catch batters completely off-guard. It’s also one of the most entertaining pitches you can see during a baseball game.
The eephus pitch is technically an off-speed pitch, similar to a changeup, in that it is meant to disrupt a batter’s timing. All off-speed pitches are slower than a fastball or fastball-variety pitch, but eephus pitches take the low speed to another level.
An eephus pitch is an incredibly slow pitch with a very high arc on its way to home plate. While there’s some debate as to how pronounced this arc has to be in order for it to be considered an eephus, some arc is absolutely required for a pitch to be a eephus; it can’t just be slow. As a batter, seeing an eephus pitch when you’re expecting a fastball can be completely and totally disorienting.
How to Throw an Eephus
A slow pitch with a high arc might sound like the easiest pitch in the world to throw, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Throwing a slow pitch might be easy, but throwing a pitch high in the air with an arc that ends in the strike zone is actually much harder said than done.
The grip for an eephus pitch is nothing special - it’s identical to a four-seam fastball grip. However, the real key to the eephus pitch is finding the right arm angle. This starts with taking a much shorter step toward the mound, which will keep you in a more upright throwing position.
From there, one should try to keep similar arm movements so as not to tip the batter off that an eephus is coming, but release the ball at a much higher angle. If done correctly, the ball will slowly arc through the air and land close to the strike zone.
While an eephus pitch is known as a pitch that has a long slow arc to the plate, there’s no exact science to determine what an eephus pitch is. That is, there’s no exact height or speed that the ball has to reach in order for it to be considered an eephus. Some people say it should go six feet in the air; others say up to 12. There are, however, some other names that people have called eephus pitches over the years. It’s been known as a “slowball,” “spaceball,” “LaLob,” and “folly floater.”
History of the Eephus
Rip Sewell invented the eephus pitch as an actual strategic weapon in baseball in the early 1940s. Its inventor actually found quite a bit of success with the pitch and used it often. He had a great career in Major League Baseball, and the eephus was a core part of his arsenal.
Since then, pitchers have mimicked Sewell and used the eephus in a variety of situations in professional baseball. It’s been used by some of the best pitchers in the league, including the likes of Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw, although it’s rarely used in high-stakes situations. In the current MLB landscape, eephus pitches are mostly seen in blowout games where it doesn’t matter what pitchers throw.
Best Eephus Pitchers
- Rip Sewell
- Yu Darvish
- Fernando Abad
- Steve Hamilton
- Luis Tiant
- Casey Fossum
What is an eephus in baseball?
An eephus pitch is a type of pitch that is very slow and follows a very high arc on its way to home plate. An eephus is technically considered an off-speed pitch, though it’s really a changeup taken to its absolute logical extreme. Eephus pitches are known to create an arc that is between six and 12 feet high but could technically be higher, however impractical that may be. But that’s the thing with an eephus pitch: practicality isn’t exactly the goal.
How is the eephus thrown in baseball?
In order to throw an eephus pitch in baseball, one must actually be incredibly accurate. Pitchers rarely practice throwing eephus pitches, and getting a high-arcing ball even close to the strike zone is actually a rather tall order. Throwing an eephus is all about arm angle: the release point has to be much higher, and it stops short of the usual point of release. One of the keys to throwing a good eephus is taking a much shorter step to the mound.