Last updated
The grip used for a changeup Change up 1.JPG
The grip used for a changeup

A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball and fastpitch softball. The changeup is the staple off-speed pitch, usually thrown to look like a fastball but arriving much more slowly to the plate. Its reduced speed coupled with its deceptive delivery is meant to confuse the batter's timing. It is meant to be thrown the same as a fastball, but farther back in the hand, which makes it release from the hand slower while still retaining the look of a fastball. A changeup is generally thrown to be 8–15 miles per hour slower than a fastball. If thrown correctly, the changeup will confuse the batter because the human eye cannot discern that the ball is coming significantly slower until it is around 30 feet from the plate. [1] For example, a batter swings at the oncoming ball as if it were a 90 mph fastball, but instead the ball is coming in at 75 mph—this means they will be swinging too early to hit the ball well (also known as being "way out in front").


Other names include change-of-pace[ citation needed ], change. In addition, before at least the second half of the twentieth century, the term "slow ball" was used to denote pitches that were not a fastball or breaking ball, which almost always meant a type of changeup. Therefore, the terms slow ball and changeup could be used interchangeably.

The changeup is analogous to the slower ball in cricket.


The changeup is thrown with the same arm action as a fastball, but at a lower speed due to the pitcher holding the ball in a special grip. Former pitcher and pitching coach Leo Mazzone stated:

"When a pitcher throws his best fastball, he puts more in it; the changeup is such that one throws something other than his best fastball. By having this mindset, the pitch will have less velocity on it in addition to the change in grips. This difference from what is expected by the arm action and the velocity can confuse the batter into swinging the bat far too early and thus receiving a strike, or not swinging at all. Should a batter be fooled on the timing of the pitch and still make contact, it will cause a foul ball or the ball being put into play weakly, usually resulting in an out. In addition to the unexpectedly slow velocity, the changeup can also[ sic ] possess a significant amount of movement, which can bewilder the batter even further. The very best changeups utilize both deception and movement." [2]


Since the rise of Pedro Martínez, a Dominican pitcher whose changeup was one of the tools that led to his three Cy Young Awards, the changeup has become increasingly popular in the Dominican Republic. [3] Dominican pitchers including Edinson Vólquez, Michael Ynoa, and Ervin Santana are all known to have developed effective changeups in the Dominican Republic after Martínez's success with the pitch.[ citation needed ]

Probably the most famous changeup thrower of the last 30 years, Atlanta Braves southpaw Tom Glavine utilized a two-seam changeup as his number one pitch on the way to winning two Cy Young Awards, a World Series MVP, and 305 wins in a celebrated Hall of Fame career. [4]

Hall of Famer reliever Trevor Hoffman had one of the best changeups in his prime and used it to record 601 saves.

In recent years, some of the game's best pitchers have relied heavily on the changeup. A 2013 article published by Sports Illustrated noted that Justin Verlander, Félix Hernández, Stephen Strasburg, David Price, and Max Scherzer have revolutionized the pitch and used it abundantly in their arsenal. [5]


The grip used for a circle changeup. Circle change 1.JPG
The grip used for a circle changeup.

There are several variations of changeups, which are generated by using different grips on the ball during the pitch.

The circle changeup is one well-known grip. [6] The pitcher forms a circle with the index finger and thumb and lays the middle and ring fingers across the seams of the ball. By pronating the wrist upon release, the pitcher can make the pitch break in the same direction as a screwball. More or less break will result from the pitcher's arm slot. Pedro Martínez used this pitch throughout his career to great effect, and many considered it to be his best pitch. [7]

The most common type is the straight changeup. The ball is held with three fingers (instead of the usual two) and closer to the palm, to kill some of the speed generated by the wrist and fingers. This pitch generally breaks downward slightly, though its motion does not differ greatly from a two-seam fastball.

Other variations include the palmball, vulcan changeup and fosh. The split-finger fastball is used by many pitchers as a type of changeup.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Knuckleball Baseball pitch

A knuckleball or knuckler is a baseball pitch thrown to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, causing an erratic, unpredictable motion. The air flow over a seam of the ball causes the ball to change from laminar to turbulent flow. This change adds a deflecting force to the baseball, making it difficult for batters to hit but also difficult for pitchers to control and catchers to catch; umpires are challenged as well, as the ball's irregular motion through the air makes it harder to call balls and strikes. A pitcher who throws knuckleballs is known as a knuckleballer.

Fastball Baseball pitch

The fastball is the most common type of pitch thrown by pitchers in baseball and softball. "Power pitchers," such as former American major leaguers Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, rely on speed to prevent the ball from being hit, and have thrown fastballs at speeds of 95–105 miles per hour (153–169 km/h) (officially) and up to 108.1 miles per hour (174.0 km/h) (unofficially). Pitchers who throw more slowly can put movement on the ball, or throw it on the outside of home plate where batters can't easily reach it.

Forkball Baseball pitch

The forkball is a type of pitch in baseball. Related to the split-finger fastball, the forkball is held between the first two fingers and thrown hard, snapping the wrist.

Slider (baseball) Baseball pitch

In baseball, a slider is a breaking ball pitch that tails laterally and down through the batter's hitting zone; it is thrown with less speed than a fastball but greater than the pitcher's curveball.

Curveball Type of pitch in baseball

In baseball and softball, the curveball is a type of pitch thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball, causing it to dive as it approaches the plate. Varieties of curveball include the 12–6 curveball, power curveball, and the knuckle curve. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to pitcher.

Split-finger fastball Baseball pitch

A split-finger fastball or splitter is an off-speed pitch in baseball that looks to the batter like a fastball until it drops suddenly. Derived from the forkball, it is so named because the pitcher puts the index and middle finger on different sides of the ball.

Starting pitcher

In baseball, a starting pitcher or starter is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A pitcher is credited with a game started if they throw the first pitch to the opponent's first batter of a game. Starting pitchers are expected to pitch for a significant portion of the game, although their ability to do this depends on many factors, including effectiveness, stamina, health, and strategy.

A screwball is a baseball and fastpitch softball pitch that is thrown so as to break in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the pitcher's arm angle, the ball may also have a sinking action.

Pitch (baseball)

In baseball, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play. The term comes from the Knickerbocker Rules. Originally, the ball had to be literally "pitched" underhand, as with pitching horseshoes. Overhand throwing was not allowed until 1884.

Two-seam fastball Baseball and Softball pitch

A two-seam fastball is a pitch in baseball and softball. It is a variant of the straight fastball. The pitch has the speed of a fastball and can also include late-breaking action caused by varying the pressure of the index and middle fingers on the ball.

Four-seam fastball Baseball pitch

A four-seam fastball, also called a rising fastball, a four-seamer, or a cross-seam fastball, is a pitch in baseball. It is a member of the fastball family of pitches and is usually the hardest ball thrown by a pitcher. The name of the pitch derives from the fact that with every rotation of the ball as it is thrown, four seams come into view. A few pitchers at the major league level can sometimes reach a pitch speed of up to 100 mph. It is often compared with the two-seam fastball.

Circle changeup Baseball pitch

In baseball, a circle changeup is a pitch thrown with a grip that includes a circle formation, hence the name circle changeup. The circle is formed by making a circle with the index finger, holding the thumb at the bottom of the ball parallel to the middle finger and holding the ball far out in the hand. The ball is thrown turning the palm out.

Cut fastball Baseball pitch

In baseball, a cut fastball or cutter is a type of fastball that breaks toward the pitcher's glove-hand side, as it reaches home plate. This pitch is somewhere between a slider and a four-seam fastball, as it is usually thrown faster than a slider but with more movement than a typical fastball. Some pitchers use a cutter to prevent hitters from expecting their regular fastballs. A common technique for throwing a cutter is to use a four-seam fastball grip with the baseball set slightly off center in the hand. A batter hitting a cutter pitch often achieves only soft contact and an easy out due to the pitch's movement keeping the ball away from the bat's sweet spot. The cutter is typically 2–5 mph slower than a pitcher's four-seam fastball. In 2010, the average pitch classified as a cutter by PITCHf/x thrown by a right-handed pitcher was 88.6 mph; the average two-seamer was 90.97 mph.

In baseball, an off-speed pitch is a pitch thrown at a slower speed than a fastball. Breaking balls and changeups are the two most common types of off-speed pitches. Very slow pitches which require the batter to provide most of the power on contact through bat speed are known as "junk" and include the knuckleball and the Eephus pitch, a sort of extreme changeup. The specific goals of off-speed pitches may vary, but in general they are used to disrupt the batter's timing, thereby lessening his chances of hitting the ball solidly or at all. Virtually all professional pitchers have at least one off-speed pitch in their repertoire. Despite the fact that most of these pitches break in some way, batters are sometimes able to anticipate them due to hints that the pitcher gives, such as changes in arm angle, arm speed, or placement of fingers.

A gyroball is a type of baseball pitch used primarily by players in Japan. It is thrown with a spiral-like spin, so that there is no Magnus force on the ball as it arrives at home plate. The gyroball is sometimes confused with the shuuto, another pitch used in Japan.

In baseball, a sinker or sinking fastball is a type of fastball which has significant downward and horizontal movement and is known for inducing ground balls. Pitchers capable of utilizing the sinker are able to throw the pitch almost exclusively, as it forces weak contact and ground balls, allowing them to rely less on secondary pitches in order to change speeds. The sinker is much more often used by right-handed than left-handed pitchers.

The shuuto (シュート) or shootball is a baseball pitch. It is commonly thrown by right-handed Japanese pitchers such as Hiroki Kuroda, Noboru Akiyama, Kenjiro Kawasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Masumi Kuwata. The most renowned shuuto pitcher in history was Masaji Hiramatsu, whose famous pitch was dubbed the razorshuuto because it seemed to "cut the air" when thrown.

12–6 curveball Baseball pitch

The 12–6 curveball is one of the types of pitches thrown in baseball. It is categorized as a breaking ball because of its downward break. The 12–6 curveball, unlike the normal curveball, breaks in a downward motion in a straight line. This explains the name "12–6", because the break of the pitch refers to the ball breaking from the number 12 to the number 6 on a clock. While the 11–5 and 2–8 variations are very effective pitches, they are less effective than a true 12–6, because the ball will break into the heart of the bat more readily.

In baseball, the vulcan changeup pitch is a type of changeup; it closely resembles a forkball and split-finger fastball. It is a variation of the circle changeup, and when mastered can be extremely effective. Much like a forkball, the vulcan is gripped between two fingers on the hand, but rather than the middle and index finger as with the forkball or split-finger fastball, it sits in between the middle and ring fingers to make a v-shape when releasing to the catcher. It is thrown with fastball arm speed but by pronating the hand by turning the thumb down, to get good downward movement on it.

The fosh, fosh ball, or fosh change is a seldom used pitch in Major League Baseball described as "a cross between a split-fingered pitch and a straight change-up". It is designed to fool a batter expecting a fastball to have to contend with a slower pitch. The pitch has a grip like a fastball, but the index and middle fingers are spread slightly across the baseball, and the ring and little finger wrap around the side of the ball. If thrown properly, it has characteristics like a breaking change-up or an off-speed split-finger fastball.


  1. Walsh, John (September 19, 2007). "Pitch Identification Tutorial". The Hardball Times. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  2. Mazzone, Leo, and Rosenthal, Jim (1999). Pitching Like a Pro: A Guide for Young Pitchers and Their Coaches, Little League Through High School. St. Martin's Press. ISBN   0-312-19946-5.
  3. The Pitch of an Island, James Wagner
  4. A Gripping Tale 13 July 1992. Sports Illustrated.
  5. How the changeup has changed the game
  6. "Changeup Grip". The Ultimate Pitcher. Archived from the original on 2012-06-29.
  7. James, Bill and Rob Neyer. The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers Simon and Schuster, 2004. Pg. 12. ISBN   0-7432-6158-5.