Left-Handed Pitching Tips
Left-handed pitchers in baseball have an advantage over their right-handed competitors. There are far more right-handed pitchers in baseball and batters get used to seeing pitches come from the right side. A left-handed delivery is quite unusual. Teams may go five, six games or more without seeing a left-handed pitcher. Right-handed batters may prefer the inward break of the left-hander's curve ball, but when they don't see that pitch, it can be difficult to hit.
Many left-handed pitchers are noted for their off-speed pitches, particularly at the major league level. However, a young left-handed pitcher should be encouraged to go after the batter with a good, hard fastball, a sharp breaking curve and perhaps one off-speed pitch to keep the batter off balance. When facing a right-handed batter, lefties should establish the inner portion of the plate as their property. Throwing an inside strike early in the count will prevent the right-handed hitter from leaning over the plate, looking for a pitch on which he can extend his arms and hitting for long distance power shots. Inside strikes force the batter to protect the inner half of the plate and allow the pitcher to get the batter out on outside strikes later in the count.
Try to establish your breaking ball for a strike early in the game. This is vital if you are going to attack the plate with a multitude of pitches. Many young pitchers -- especially left handers -- struggle to throw curveballs for strikes. This is because a left-hander's curve breaks in toward a right-handed hitter, and if it does not find the corner, it will go to that hitter's power zone. Left-handed hitters struggle when left-handed pitchers throw breaking pitches as well because they see them so rarely. However, if the left-handed pitcher can't throw the curve for a strike, both righties and lefties will sit back and wait for the fastball. Left-handed pitchers need the courage to throw the curve ball even though it appears to be a pitch that can get them in trouble.
Left-handers should make it a point to learn an outstanding pickoff move to first base. When there are runners on base, the left-handed pitcher should face first base when pitching from the stretch. This is a huge advantage compared to right-handers who face third-base when pitching from the stretch. The left-handed pitcher can become an expert at keeping runners close at first base and picking them off by developing a quick move to first base that prevents the runner from getting a big move.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.