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No Bull: Sports Lingo Explained

Victor E. Bull

Pitch by pitch

With baseball season now in full gear, here is a breakdown of the three most common types of pitches to come across home plate:

Fastball: Typically the most common pitch, the fastball is just what its name implies—fast. Variations of the fastball exist when it comes to movement, but the need for speed and intent to top the radar gun are always apparent. Fastballs are typically thrown when the pitcher is trying to strike out a batter or make it difficult for the batter to achieve quality contact with the bat.

Breaking ball: While the fastball aims to speedily get over the plate, the breaking ball is thrown to confuse the batter and to complicate contact. When thrown properly, a breaking ball has movement, typically downward or to the side. Common types of breaking balls include curveballs, sliders and sinkers.

Change-ups: Mixing the elements of the fastball and the breaking ball, change-ups appear to be arriving at the plate at the speed of a fastball. However, they are actually intended to confuse the batters, as do breaking balls. Change-ups tend to hurt the batter’s timing because of their unpredictable speed.