Baseball has evolved over the years, with pitching strategies and techniques changing to adapt to the demands of the game. From the early days of baseball to the present day, the pitcher’s role has changed dramatically, with the emergence of specialized pitching roles and the development of different pitches and pitching styles. This article dives into the development of various pitching techniques in baseball and their influence on the game.
The Early Days of Pitching in Baseball
Pitching in the early days of baseball vastly differed from what we see today. Pitchers would throw the ball underhand, and the goal was to get the ball in play so that the defense could make a play. As the game evolved, the pitching style changed, and the pitcher’s role became more prominent.
The Rise of Specialized Pitching Roles
In the 70s and 80s, dedicated roles for relief pitchers came about and revolutionized the pitching game. This marked the beginning of specialized pitching roles. Relief pitchers were brought in specifically to pitch for a short time, usually, one or two innings, to get the team out of a jam or to close out a game. This new role changed how pitchers were used, and managers started to develop specific roles for pitchers on their staff.
The Development of Different Pitches
Pitchers have always tried to develop new pitches to give them an advantage over hitters. The fastball has always been a staple pitch in baseball, but pitchers have developed different variations, including the four-seam fastball, the two-seam fastball, and the cut fastball. Other pitches, such as the curveball, the slider, and the changeup, have also become essential tools in a pitcher’s arsenal.
Pitching styles have also evolved over time. In the 1960s and 1970s, pitchers like Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson relied on power pitching to dominate hitters. In the 1980s and 1990s, finesse pitchers like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine became dominant, using location and movement to get hitters out. In recent years, the emphasis has shifted back to power pitching, with pitchers like Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole relying on high-velocity fastballs and devastating breaking pitches to dominate hitters.
Pitching tactics in baseball have tremendously evolved since its inception. The pitcher’s role has become more prominent with the emergence of specialized roles and the development of different pitches and pitching styles. As the game continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to see how pitchers continue to adapt and develop new strategies to stay ahead of the game.