Baseball Sinker (SI)
The key to a great pitcher is a great arsenal of pitches. Though a good fastball may work for a while, eventually, batters will catch on to your speed and placement. Adding an effective sinker into your pitching rotation can help keep a batter on their toes, mix up the ball game, and even force a ground ball when thrown correctly. This article tells you all you need to know about sinkers, how to throw them, and when they are most effective.
Sometimes confused with a slider, a sinker is a variation of a fastball that moves with a quick, sinking downward motion. While sliders move more diagonally across the plate (and are typically slower), sinkers make their way more directly toward the bottom of the batter's box.
Sinkers can be extremely effective pitches; however, they take a bit of practice. An incorrectly thrown sinker can come out like a regular fastball or even end up out of the strike zone. These pitches are typically thrown when the pitcher hopes to force a ground ball, as they can often be hard to bat with any velocity.
How to Throw a Sinker
Using the same grip you would for a fastball, with both your middle and index fingers positioned between the seams of the ball, your goal is to put spin on the ball with a sinker pitch. Be sure to place intense pressure on the ball with your index finger in order to produce a strike with enough spin on it.
Batters are best surprised by this pitch if your windup mimics your fastball windup, as well. As the ball is released, however, flicking your index finger will give the ball the sinking motion necessary to prompt a ground ball when contact is made.
As the sinker is itself a variation of a fastball, there aren’t many variations of this pitch. However, a splitter, sometimes called a split-fingered fastball, might be considered a variation to some. This pitch is extremely similar to the sinker, in that it derives from the fastball, and its goal is to make a downward break at the plate.
However, splitters have more breaking movement, meaning they travel to the plate more indirectly (instead of in a straight line). With this line of reasoning, a forkball might also be considered a variation of the sinker, as a forkball is a slower version of a split-fingered fastball.
History of the Sinker
Although sinkers have been around since the beginning of baseball, they were not thrown intentionally until the 1950s. Sometimes, a fastball would break unintentionally after being thrown, making the same motion as what is now referred to as a sinker, but pitchers weren’t doing this on purpose, and there certainly wasn’t a name for these pitches. Curt Simmons of the Philadelphia Phillies is the player most credited for first throwing sinkers deliberately.
Best Sinker Pitchers
- Aroldis Chapman
- Jordan Hicks
- Zack Britton
- Aaron Bummer
- Dustin May
What is a sinker in baseball?
A sinker is a type of fastball thrown when a pitcher hopes to force a ground ball. Sinker pitches have a great degree of speed on them, but rather than landing in a direct location, they make a quick, sinking motion toward the bottom of the batter’s box. Pitchers known for their sinkers are often referred to as “sinkerballers,” and can be very effective players once they master the pitch and when to throw it.
How is the sinker thrown in baseball?
As a variation of the fastball, a sinker is thrown quite similarly to a fastball. The arm angle and motion are the same as a fastball, as is the grip. To throw a sinker, you should grip the ball tightly, with your middle and index fingers in between the baseball’s red seams. The only difference between throwing a sinker versus a fastball comes in your release of the pitch. When throwing a sinker, an extra flick of the index finger is necessary. Be sure to apply extra pressure and tightness on the ball with your index finger; otherwise, the intended downward motion will not be achieved.