A changeup is like a fastball but uses a modified grip and is slower. Changeups dance sideways, drop, or do combination of the two.
Changeups were always a back in the pocket pitch generations ago. But over the years, it has become a staple pitch in the repertoire of some of the greatest modern era pitchers. Here are the different types of changeups and a description of each:
Pitchers form a circle with their thumb and index finger where the leading pressure is placed on the first two seam stitching. The three other fingers fan out across the top of the ball. The ideal placement of the pinky is against the other two seam piece of the ball. The ball should not have any contact with the palm.
The circle change should be completely thrown like a fastball, but at the last second pitchers rotate their hand with the thumb going down. This cuts the ball against the air and allows it to reduce more speed and tail away from the pitching hand. If a pitcher is right handed, the circle change will ride into the fists of a right handed batter. The circle change works extremely well off the four-seam fastball and slider, which run in the opposite direction.
A straight changeup is typically the three finger change that has the hand placement similar to the four seam fastball. The thumb and pinky touch and sit on the bottom smooth area right before the seam. The index, middle, and ring fingers will sit across the top of the baseball with the index to the start of the close two-seam. It is best to see the Rawlings sign between the ring and middle fingers.
Pitchers normally tuck the ball in as much possible because the more feel of the fingers and hands, the more movement on the pitch. If a pitcher’s fingers are big and strong enough, they can tuck the ball into their palm using all of pressure on top with palm action to provide rotation resistance.
The straight changeup is the easiest changeup to throw because the hand friction does all of the movement. The pitch should either stay on plane with a reduced speed compared to the fastball, and often the ball can cut down a few inches and drop.
The forkball very much mimics the splitter and is very rarely used by professional pitchers today. The movement is suited for advanced pitchers with a professional pedigree and it’s hard to explain the actions on how to properly throw it for that reason.
The tuck action almost mimics the path of the circle change, but normally has a greater drop off of the table. The forkball can lead to mechanical problems because pitchers tend to snap it instead of simply letting it ride out without downward spin. It sounds counter intuitive, but the stale release is the action that causes it to drop off the table. Since the circle change is an easily repetitive pitch with a great decrease in arm related stress, the forkball has become outdated.
Palmballs sit deep in the pocket with ball resting on the top 1/3 of the upper palm and the four fingers simply spread out over the ball across the seams, which is similar to the four seam fastball. The thumb sits in the exact same location as the four seam fastball. Pitchers with bigger hands have a real advantage because the fingers can place additional pressure across the ball.
Coming through similar to the fastball, pitchers turn their wrists in towards the ground — or just pointing the thumb. Pitchers must have near perfect mechanics with solid command to point their thumbs towards the sky because the ball can float in the zone and land 450 feet away if done incorrectly. The action of the ball is dependent on the amount of friction and rotation, but when at its best it will drop and move towards the throwing side more than any other type of change up.