By Corey Littrell (Current player in Boston Red Sox organization)
A big misconception in pitching is that throwing fastballs inside to hitters is not a smart move.
Many believe that when you throw inside to a hitter that is where they want the ball, it’s their “wheelhouse.”
In some instances this is true; a hitter recognizes that the baseball is in the zone so they are more inclined to swing.
However, the ability to throw fastballs inside both to left-handed and right-handed hitters is a major weapon for the pitcher. Everyone who has ever played baseball knows that getting jammed is a feeling that you want to try and diminish as much as possible.
With that in mind, why would you not want to try and jam the hitter with an inside fastball?
When the pitcher shows that he has the ability to throw fastballs in, he completely changes the relationship between him and the hitter. Now, the hitter has the thought that he doesn’t want to get jammed on an inside fastball in his head.
A hitter might compensate by backing away from the plate, thus making the outer half open for an off-speed pitch or a fastball away. Another option that the hitter might do is just avoid the inside fastball completely.
In higher levels of baseball, such as Professional or Division 1, the ability to throw inside fastballs must be included in a pitcher’s arsenal.
There are professional organizations that force their pitchers to throw every fastball inside no matter what situation he may be in.
Over a season in higher levels of baseball, the percentages of fastballs thrown inside vs. fastballs thrown away is usually around 60% inside to 40% away.
In order for a pitcher to continue to move onto the next level, there are numerous things that he must master. Having the ability and the confidence to throw inside fastballs whenever he wants is a piece that is needed to make a complete pitcher.