The game of baseball is known for its variety of pitches, each designed to deceive the batter and keep them off balance.
One such pitch that has gained attention over the years is the Eephus pitch.
This slow, looping pitch is a rare sight on the baseball field, but when executed correctly, it can be a powerful weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal.
Here we’ll look at the mechanics, history, and strategies behind throwing an Eephus pitch.
The Mechanics of an Eephus Pitch
Before diving into the details of how to throw an Eephus pitch, it is important to understand its mechanics.
Unlike traditional pitches that rely on speed and movement, the Eephus pitch is characterized by its slow speed and high arc.
The goal of this pitch is to catch the batter off guard and disrupt their timing.
Here are the key steps to throwing an Eephus pitch:
- Grip: The grip for an Eephus pitch is similar to a traditional fastball grip, with the fingers placed across the seams of the ball. However, instead of gripping the ball tightly, the pitcher should hold it loosely to allow for maximum air resistance.
- Windup: The windup for an Eephus pitch is typically slower and more deliberate than other pitches. This allows the pitcher to generate a high arc and maximize the element of surprise.
- Release: As the pitcher releases the ball, they should aim to throw it with a high trajectory. This will cause the ball to travel in a looping motion towards the plate, giving it its distinctive appearance.
- Follow-through: After releasing the ball, the pitcher should maintain a smooth and controlled follow-through. This will help ensure accuracy and prevent injury.
How to grip and throw The Eephus Pitch [Baseball Pitching Grips – Change Up]
The History of the Eephus Pitch
The Eephus pitch has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1940s.
It was first popularized by Rip Sewell, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sewell developed the pitch as a way to counter the powerful hitters of his era, who were known for their ability to hit fastballs and curveballs.
Sewell’s Eephus pitch was a slow, high-arcing curveball that left batters baffled.
He named the pitch “Eephus” after a Hebrew word meaning “nothing” or “zero,” reflecting the low expectations that batters had when facing this unconventional pitch.
Since Sewell’s time, the Eephus pitch has been used sparingly by a handful of pitchers.
Notable examples include Bill “Spaceman” Lee, who used the pitch to great effect during his career, and more recently, position players like Josh Harrison and Chris Gimenez, who have thrown the pitch in emergency relief appearances.
Strategies for Throwing an Eephus Pitch
While the Eephus pitch may seem like a gimmick, it can be an effective weapon when used strategically.
Here are some strategies to consider when throwing an Eephus pitch:
- Timing: The key to a successful Eephus pitch is catching the batter off guard. By mixing up the timing and throwing the pitch in unexpected situations, pitchers can increase their chances of success.
- Count manipulation: The Eephus pitch is often thrown in unconventional counts, such as 3-0 or 0-2, where the batter is less likely to swing. By taking advantage of these counts, pitchers can increase the element of surprise and catch the batter off guard.
- Location: While the Eephus pitch is known for its high arc, it is important to vary the location to keep the batter guessing. By occasionally throwing the pitch lower in the strike zone, pitchers can disrupt the batter’s timing and induce weak contact.
- Change of speeds: The Eephus pitch is typically thrown at a much slower speed than other pitches. By mixing in the Eephus pitch with faster pitches, pitchers can disrupt the batter’s timing and make it more difficult for them to square up the ball.
Eephus vs. Curveball vs. Changeup
Let’s look at the differences between these three types of pitches: the eephus, curveball, and changeup.
The Eephus pitch is something of an oddball (pun intended) in the world of baseball.
It’s not thrown often, in large part because it doesn’t have the same speed or movement as other pitches.
However, when used correctly, it can be quite effective.
- Grip: There’s no official grip for an eephus pitch. Some pitchers grip it like a four-seam fastball, while others may hold it like a palm ball, with the ball settled in the palm of the hand.
- Mechanics: Unlike most pitches, the eephus doesn’t rely on arm speed for its effectiveness. Instead, it’s lobbed toward the plate with a high, slow arc. The pitcher typically utilizes an overhand throw.
- Frequency Thrown: Very rare. The eephus is a surprise pitch that’s used infrequently because of its unconventional nature.
- Purpose: The purpose of an eephus pitch is to confuse the batter. The slower speed and high arc can throw off a batter’s timing and expectations, often resulting in a weak contact or a miss.
A curveball is a standard pitch in many pitcher’s arsenals, known for its distinct, downwards break.
- Grip: The curveball is usually gripped with the middle and index fingers together, placed on or alongside the seam, and the thumb underneath the ball, on the opposite seam.
- Mechanics: The pitch is thrown with a snap of the wrist at the release point, giving the ball a forward spin. This forward spin causes the ball to dive downward as it nears the plate.
- Frequency Thrown: Quite common. The curveball is a standard pitch for many pitchers.
- Purpose: The purpose of a curveball is to deceive the batter into thinking the ball is coming in at a higher point than it is. Because of its downward break, batters often swing over the top of it, resulting in a miss or weak ground ball.
The changeup is another common pitch, known for its slower speed compared to a fastball.
- Grip: The grip for a changeup varies, but one common grip is the circle changeup, where the index finger and thumb form a circle on one side of the ball, and the other three fingers are spread across the seams.
- Mechanics: A changeup is thrown with the same arm motion and release point as a fastball, but the grip and finger pressure cause the ball to leave the hand at a slower speed.
- Frequency Thrown: Fairly common. Many pitchers use the changeup as an off-speed pitch to complement their fastball.
- Purpose: The purpose of a changeup is to disrupt the batter’s timing. Because it’s thrown with the same motion as a fastball but at a slower speed, the batter is often ahead of the pitch, resulting in a miss or weak contact.
In summary, each of these pitches is unique in its grip, mechanics, and purpose.
The eephus is the least common, used to catch batters off guard with its high arc and slower speed.
The curveball is more common, and it deceives batters with its downward movement.
The changeup, like the curveball, is also common, but it’s used to disrupt the batter’s timing by coming in slower than a fastball.
- How to Throw a 2-Seam and 4-Seam Fastball
- How to Throw a Slider
- How to Throw a Curveball
- How to Throw a Changeup
- How to Throw a Splitter
- How to Throw a Cutter
- How to Throw a Forkball
- How to Throw a Screwball
- How to Throw a Knuckleball
- Can an Average Guy Hit a Major League Pitch?
FAQs – How to Throw an Eephus Pitch
1. What is an Eephus pitch?
An Eephus pitch is a slow, high-arcing pitch that is designed to deceive the batter and disrupt their timing.
2. How do you grip an Eephus pitch?
The grip for an Eephus pitch is similar to a traditional fastball grip, with the fingers placed across the seams of the ball.
However, the ball should be held loosely to allow for maximum air resistance.
3. What is the history of the Eephus pitch?
The Eephus pitch was popularized by Rip Sewell in the 1940s as a way to counter powerful hitters.
It has since been used sparingly by a few pitchers, including Bill “Spaceman” Lee.
4. When should I throw an Eephus pitch?
The Eephus pitch is most effective when thrown in unexpected situations, such as unconventional counts or when the batter is not expecting it.
5. How can I increase the effectiveness of an Eephus pitch?
By varying the timing, location, and speed of the Eephus pitch, pitchers can increase its effectiveness and catch the batter off guard.
6. Can the Eephus pitch be used as a strikeout pitch?
While the Eephus pitch is not typically used as a strikeout pitch, it can induce weak contact and disrupt the batter’s timing, leading to outs.
7. Are there any risks associated with throwing an Eephus pitch?
As with any pitch, there is a risk of injury if proper mechanics and follow-through are not maintained.
It is important to practice and gradually build up the strength and flexibility required to throw an Eephus pitch.
8. Can position players throw an Eephus pitch?
Yes, position players have been known to throw the Eephus pitch in emergency relief appearances.
Examples include Josh Harrison and Chris Gimenez.
9. How can I practice throwing an Eephus pitch?
Practicing the Eephus pitch requires patience and repetition. Start by throwing the pitch at a slower speed and gradually increase the arc and distance.
Focus on maintaining a loose grip and a smooth follow-through.
10. Can the Eephus pitch be effective at all levels of baseball?
The effectiveness of the Eephus pitch can vary depending on the skill level of the batters faced.
While it may be more effective against less experienced hitters, it can still catch even the most seasoned batters off guard when executed correctly.
The Eephus pitch is a unique and deceptive pitch that can be a valuable weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal.
By mastering the mechanics, understanding its history, and employing strategic approaches, pitchers can effectively use the Eephus pitch to disrupt the timing of batters and induce weak contact.
While it may not be a pitch for every situation, the Eephus pitch adds an element of surprise and excitement to the game of baseball.