Tunneling - Part 3


The most critical part of all of this is bringing it together to get hitters out. Enter tunneling.  The idea of tunneling is getting two different pitches to travel down the same path as long as possible, ideally to the point where hitters have to decide to swing or not.  Having elite stuff will get hitters out at a lot of levels.  Tunneling becomes a much bigger factor as players get better and begin to have a real approach at the plate.  If a pitcher has a fastball that hitters do not routinely catch up to, pounding the strike zone and using offspeed as necessary will get most hitters out.  However, it is a good thing to begin to understand and use even at younger ages.  The most simple and  particularly at younger ages effective is tunneling a fastball and a change-up.  

Change-ups are good because they look like fastballs and fairly easy to throw with the same arm action and similar release point as fastballs.  If a pitcher can throw a good fastball to any location, throwing a change-up that beings in the same spot and ends slightly different will be highly effective.  As pitchers begin to throw more breaking balls, setting them up will usually begin with a more elevated fastball.  If a pitcher gets good 12-6 break on a breaking ball, a fastball at the letters will allow a pitcher to start their breaking ball just above the strike zone and still finish for a strike.  Just imagine the kid that can never get the ball down being told to pound the top of the zone with fastballs and throw their curveball in the zone, game changer.

This is again where knowing the spin rate and actual action of all pitches is important.  The other major factor is controlling the baseball.  It does not have to be pinpoint command, but it will be most effective if the pitches are around their intended location.  However, I believe this can still play at all levels because the goal should be to control the fastball to both sides of the plate as well as up and down.  It cannot be overstated that the first goal should be to have develop quality stuff. If hitters do not hit the ball in the strike zone, pitchers don’t need to make it more complex.

Throw your fastball where it is most effective, throw a breaking ball that looks like that fastball for as long as possible. If people chase it, throw it out of the zone more often. If they miss it in the zone, don’t try to force them to chase.

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