Reading the Bat: Effective Pitch Mix

Reading the Bat: Effective Pitch Mix

When it comes to understanding how to pitch and be effective against quality hitters, look at how a hitter approaches his at-bat. Hitting is about timing. Pitching therefore, is about disrupting a hitter’s timing.

When you keep a hitter off balance and uncomfortable, the more susceptible he is to multiple means of attack. A pitcher isn’t only trying to get a batter out, but should be learning about hitter weaknesses, based on the hitter’s reactions to pitches in previous at bats. A pitcher needs to “read the bat,” which means understanding a hitter’s approach, based on how he handles specific offerings.

For example, if a hitter shows himself to have a slower bat against a good fastball, it doesn’t make sense to speed up his bat with off-speed offerings. This isn’t to say off-speed pitches won’t be effective, but a pitcher should attack a glaring weakness. Force a hitter to prove he can make adjustments. As a pitcher, you need to command all parts of the plate. Hitting a batter isn’t necessary to make a hitter uncomfortable, but something as simple as forcing a hitter to move his feet or change his eye level by working high and low can alter his comfort level. Up, down, in, out; the more area a hitter has to cover, the less likely he’ll make contact.

Another problem with most pitchers at a young age, even through professional baseball, is fear of contact. When a pitcher gives up a solid hit, he tends to shy from contact immediately afterward—that’s a mistake. Remember, hitting a baseball is arguably the most difficult thing to do in sports. In Major League baseball, succeeding 30 percent of the time as a hitter is considered all-star caliber. Some final points:

  • Be aggressive in the strike zone—force the hitter to be defensive.
  • Trust the defense behind you.
  • Pitch to all parts of the strike zone to force a hitter to maximize plate coverage.
  • Disrupt timing by pitching to a hitter’s weaknesses.
  • Read the bat—the hitter will tell you what pitches and what area you need to pitch to, to be effective.

What pitch mix has made you effective as a pitcher? How have you learned to “read the bat?” Do your best games come when you relax and remember there’s a team backing you up? ~ By Coach Steve Switala. “Coach Swat” was an all-county honorable mention catcher at Chesapeake Senior High School in Pasadena, MD.Contact him at