Most pitching coaches start beginners with the Big Three: Fastball, Curve, Changeup; then, most move on to the Cutter or Slider.
But, let’s consider two other pitches that take a sudden drop at home plate, usually after the batter has begun his swing and it’s too late for him to adjust.
"You may find that you can add these two pitches as you learn the 2-seam fastball."
Think about the direction of the movement on the standard pitches and contrast it with the movement of the sinker and splitter.
Fastballs move in a straight line and some have a “hop,” that makes them appear to jump upward, or a short, late drop.
See Aroldis Chapman throw the fastest fastball ever in MLB:
Some pitchers can throw the “Koufax Curve,” known as the 12-6, or overhand curve, because it starts at high noon and heads towards the 6 on the face of a clock.
The 12-6 curveball is thrown overhand and on the vertical plane.
Most curves feature a gradual movement.
See Sandy Koufax throw his here:
See Chad Billingsley throw one in slo-mo:
A changeup is designed to look exactly like a fastball, but come to the plate at least 10 MPH slower; here the pitcher wants the batter to read “fastball” from the windup motion and arm slot, then get out ahead of the pitch with their swing.
The cutter’s late movement is due to a slight adjustment in the fastball grip that allows the ball to dart at the last split second.
See Mariano Rivera’s cutter here:
For Right-handed batters facing LHPs, the slider is nearly unhittable.
See “Lefty”—Steve Carlton—make fools of the best MLB hitters of his era with his slider.
Both the sinker and the splitter “drop hard”—they look like a straight fastball and “drop like a rock” as they reach the plate and the batter begins his timing for a fastball swing.
A well thrown sinker or splitter will appear to disappear–just as the batter begins his swing– as it drops rapidly down and out of sight.
Both pitches can start with the standard two-seam fastball grip with the pointer and middle finger on the seams at their narrowest location.
With the sinker, the pitcher hooks his fingers on the ball; with the splitter, he extends his two fingers out to create a track for the ball to travel.
LHP sinker here:
How to throw a sinker:
The splitter is also referred to as a “split-finger fastball” and it tumbles late and changes speed.
How to throw a splitter:
I recommend that you not wait to master the Big Three before trying to add a sinker or splitter, as it will add a pitch that suddenly drops to your early menu.
While you are learning the 2-seam fastball, try the sinker and splitter, since they require a small change in the same two-finger grip.