Whenever you are ahead in the count, you should “expand the strike zone.” No, let’s rephrase that. You must expand the strike zone! That simply means throwing a pitch off the plate, that’s actually a ball. Or throwing a pitch too high or too low that is out of the strike zone. Let’s be clear on one thing. I think it is a total waste if you throw the pitch too far off the plate. If ahead of the batter and the count is 0-2, it makes no sense to throw a pitch over the batter’s head or two feet off the plate. The objective is to get the batter to swing at a pitch that’s not a strike. If you throw the ball way off the plate or over the batter’s head the batter will not swing. The only thing that does is that it adds to your pitch count, which makes no sense at all.
It is estimated that at least 70% of swinging strike threes at any level of play are on pitches that are not strikes. Please read the previous sentence again!
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can see it for yourself. Occasionally, when a pitcher strikes out a lot of hitters in a baseball game, the following morning on television, they sometimes show the replays of all the strikeouts. Keep a tally for yourself. (Trust me on this one, you can do it.) I have done it several times.
If the hitter took strike three, you don’t tally it. You are only checking the swinging strike threes. Simply count the pitches swung at that were strikes and pitches swung at that were balls. Your tally will go like this: 1 out of 1, 1 out of 2, 2 out of 3, 2 out of 4, 3 out of 5, etc.
I really suggest you try this. I’m not saying to do it all the time but try it two or three times. You will get very good at it and in no time at all and may find it very interesting as well as surprising. The batters swing at more strike threes that are balls than are strikes! That is a very powerful statement. It is because the batter can no longer be fussy about what he swings at and must protect against being called out on strikes.
There is an expression that has been around for decades and still holds true and will never become obsolete. “You get ahead of them with strikes but you get them out with balls.” I know it’s been around for decades because my father, God rest his soul, taught it to me about 50 years ago, when I was 9 years old. Boy am I old!
Make very good use of expanding the strike zone because very often, if ahead in the count, you will get batters out with balls.
One of the better baseball pitching tips you should always remember is that there is simply no reason on earth to give a hitter a strike to hit if he’s going to swing at a ball! Baseball pitching is plenty tough enough.
Why not make your life easier as a pitcher? And remember one of the better baseball pitching tips…”You get ahead of them with strikes but you get them out with balls!”