Wade Davis might be the best relief pitcher on the planet right now and not so long ago he said an interesting thing: get strike one on some guys and the at-bat is over.
A lot of big league hitters have no two-strike approach. A two-strike approach usually means choking up, waiting longer on the ball and hitting it the other way. If a hitter continues to keep his bottom hand down on the knob and continues to pull the ball, he’s vulnerable to the strike out — he’s got a hard time checking a swing and he’ll be easy to fool with a breaking pitch.
Hitters don’t like to strike out so they start to expand their zone once they have one strike — that’s what Wade was talking about. Lots of hitters look first-pitch fastball so if a smart pitcher throws a slider for a strike, those hitters will take it. Then the smart pitcher throws a fastball on the corner — or even off the corner — and a hitter that doesn’t like to hit with two strikes will chase that pitch. He can’t do much with it; but at least he didn’t strike out.
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Pay attention to hitters who expand their strike zone with one strike and you’re probably watching a hitter who’s afraid to hit with two.
To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.