The Change Up

Circle Change

I’m not talking about the movie coming out soon with my girl Olivia Wilde and my wife’s boy Ryan Reynolds.

I’m talking about one of the filthiest pitches a pitcher can throw.

I was watching the Blue Jays get owned by James Shields yesterday, especially by his dirty change and it got me thinking about which guys throw the best change.

Before I get into that, why is this pitch so effective?

It’s pretty simple, as it’s name suggests, the pitch is a change in velocity meant to mess with the hitters timing.

Those of you who have played baseball know that hitting is all about timing and pitch recognition.

You only have mere moments to pick up the location and the spin on the ball to determine the type of pitch.

The change up is so dirty because the pitcher throws it with the exact same arm speed he would a fastball and the spin on the ball looks similar to a fastball.

Except the pitch is 10 or more miles per hour slower than the fastball. So if thrown right and in the right spot, it’ll have the hitter way out in front. The hitter will either miss it completely or hit it off the sweet spot of the bat and have weak contact.

So if the pitch is so good why doesn’t everyone have a dirty change? It’s a pretty tough pitch to master (just check out that grip in the pic above) and throw consistently in good spots.

I never could throw a good one, but then again seeing my beautiful mechanics below I’m not sure how I ever hit the strike zone.

and here is reason #1 I don't pitch anymore

So onto my list of guys with the best change-up’s in the game today (this list is not in any particular order)

1) Ricky Romero

His change up has been compared to Johan Santana’s. It is so dominant that opposing managers are now putting out a mostly lefty line-up to neutralize his change (the change dives down and away from righties but into the lefties wheelhouse).

He throws it in any count and in any location.

2) James Shields

When he throws it and keeps it down he is incredibly tough. His change differs a bit from Romero’s in that his seems to just fall off the table and go straight down instead of tailing away.

3) Tim Lincecum

So first you have to deal with his funky wind-up then his low to mid 90’s fastball and then he throws his dirty change up to just ruin your mind. Probably a good reason he’s already won 2 Cy Young awards.

4) Jered Weaver

Similar to Lincecum, Weaver has a funky delivery, but he doesn’t have the velocity that Lincecum has. He makes up for that with his filthy change up that helped him lead the league in k’s last year

5) Johan Santana

I know he hasn’t pitched in awhile and may not ever pitch again, but his change up made him famous and is arguably one of the best ever. What made his change up so dominating was that he could control it so well, if he needed a strike with it he could do it, if he wanted it just below the knees and just off the outside corner, he could do it.

There are a bunch more filthy change’s I could add: Marcum, Ubaldo, Hamels, Buehrle…

If I had to choose the best, it would have to be Lincecum.

Batters just have no chance…