Working the Count

Posted in: Team Results

Working The Count: Keep ‘Em Uneasy

As a pitcher or catcher, the question always is: what do you want the hitter saying to himself when he steps into the batter’s box? You want that hitter to feel uneasy, guessing what pitch will fire in next. The first time through the lineup tells you a lot about where to attack hitters in their next at-bats. One aspect that gets overlooked sometimes is that it’s OK to throw balls, as long as they work in your favor—even if you call it “effectively wild.” If the hitter knows you’re going to be in the strike zone all day, it’s easier for him to look for his pitch, to tee it up and crush it. As a catcher or pitcher, you need to set up pitches, instead of, for instance, throwing two curveballs in a row. Say you have a 0-0 count and your first pitch is an outside fastball for a strike. Now it’s 0-1, and you throw a curveball outside for another strike. Now the hitter’s in a 0-2 count, and he just looked horrible on that outside curveball.  What do you throw next? The same pitch? This is a perfect opportunity to set up the curveball again. You know he can’t hit it, but he just saw it. The location, the spin, and the break of the ball are fresh in his head. This is when you bust him inside with a fastball—back him off the plate. Now, he’s thinking about the inside fastball and not the curveball. Your count’s 1-2. You’re still in the driver’s seat. You can throw any one of your pitches. This is when you come back with the curveball he can’t touch. He looks even worse this time because inside his head is the fastball you threw. It’s a swing and a miss! See ya next time, go take a seat. Use any balls you throw to set up the strikes you need to get the batter out. What was a count or pitch combination you worked as a pitcher/catcher to get out a batter? Were you surprised at the result, or is working the count a predictable science? ~ By Coach Ray Hart. Coach Hart, former team captain, is junior varsity assistant coach at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, MD. In the fall, he coaches at Dig In Baseball. Contact him at