In a game where pitchers are throwing faster than 100 miles per hour, in theory, somebody who throws 90 miles per hour shouldn’t have a hope of surviving. Marco Estrada has made a living as a soft tosser, where topping out at 92 MPH is just as good as throwing 103 MPH gas.
The key to Estrada’s success has always been his signature pitch: the changeup. Since 2015, it’s been one of the best changeups in baseball and he throws it with regularity, about 30% of the time. Estrada releases his changeup exactly the same as his fastball but with one big difference; the changeup is coming out of his hand about 12 MPH slower than his fastball.
Pitchers and hitters around the league marvel at Estrada’s ability to navigate the AL East with these low-velocity pitches, but he’s done well for himself since converting to a full-time starter in 2015.
Estrada shares the secrets of his go-to pitch in this incredibly insightful segment from MLB Network.
Estrada says the key to his changeup isn’t the grip or how hard he throws the ball, but it’s how he keeps his weight on his back foot as long as possible.
I don’t think it really matters how you hold the ball, it’s more trying to kill your lower half.
When I’m throwing a fastball, you’re always going to load, but you push off with your right. When I’m throwing a changeup, I’m still back here and as I release I try to stay back as long as I can on that back leg.
I kill my lower half so there’s no momentum going forward. You can throw it as hard as you want, if that back leg stays behind you, you’re not going to throw it very far.
Of all the videos and explanations I’ve seen about how to throw an execute a changeup, Estrada’s is the only one I’ve ever seen that addresses what to do with the lower half of the body on the pitcher’s follow-through towards the mound.
[ Related Post: Marco Estrada Continues to Baffle Hitters with His Changeup ]
Some pitchers try to throw their changeup with a downward motion to create backspin, but Estrada’s teaching method above is completely different. Now it’s easy to see why he throws one of the best off-speed pitches in Major League Baseball.
Hat tip to MLB Network for the video