What Tactics Do MLB Pitchers Use To Strikeout Batters?

What Tactics Do MLB Pitchers Use To Strikeout Batters

Pitchers are a key component of any baseball team. They set the pace on defense, largely regulate the morale of the other team’s batters, and tilt the game’s momentum to their team’s advantage. One of the most important ways pitchers crush their opponents is through strikeouts. Therefore, pitchers spend countless hours honing their skills and perfecting their grips and throws to improve their strikeout numbers. This article details some tactics pitchers use to strike out batters and win games.

Practice and Training

Pitchers must practice refining their skills to strike out even the toughest batters. Therefore, they spend many training sessions throwing balls, trying new grips, and perfecting pitches. These training sessions may involve making throws, practicing wrist techniques, or undergoing strength training exercises.

Some of the arm-strengthening exercises that pitchers may try out to improve their abilities include:

  • Band External Rotations
  • Band Internal Rotations
  • W-Y-W Scap Strength Exercise
  • Blackburns
  • Prone Scarecrows
  • The Scap Push-Up
  • Scaption Raise
  • Shoulder Alphabet
  • Forearm Six-Way

Unpredictability and Pitch Movement

Pitchers must stay unpredictable. Once a batter expects a certain pitch, it is over for a pitcher. Therefore, pitchers must never become easy to read. They employ tactics such as varying the type of pitches they throw, throwing the ball at different spots in the strike zone, and gripping the ball differently to throw off their opponents and get strikeouts. 

Changing up their pitches keeps a batter on their toes. A 70 mph changeup followed by a 92 mph fastball can really throw a batter off their game. Changing the pitch type usually changes the speed, which stops a batter from getting into a comfort zone. However, pitchers must be careful to keep these changes as random as possible.

To get more strikeouts, pitchers often pitch to different spots in the strike zone: corners are especially tricky for batters to track. By varying where they place a pitch, pitchers keep batters from knowing where to look. If a batter’s eyes cannot follow a spot, their bat certainly has no chance.

Since fastballs are a pitcher’s bread-and-butter, it can be easy to fall into the rut of continually throwing them. However, pitchers can switch things up and keep their fastballs hard to read by changing their grip. Pitchers will often change from a four-seam grip to a two-seam grip, causing the ball to break in the air. 


Additionally, pitchers can get strikeouts by instilling fear in batters. Throwing 99 mph fastballs can make anybody shake in their boots. Throwing a couple of these every at-bat can really make batters struggle to get their heads on straight.

Also, many batters do not swing on the first pitch to get a read on the pitcher. By throwing strikes for the first few pitches, batters will get angsty and struggle to focus. Finally, good pitchers know how to pitch the inside fastball. Putting fastballs inside can scare a batter.