The grip used for a changeup

A changeup is a type of pitch in baseball. Other names include change-of-pace, Bugs Bunny change-up, the dreaded equalizer, and simply change. The changeup is sometimes called an off-speed pitch, although that term can also be used simply to mean any pitch that is slower than a fastball. In addition, before at least the second half of the twentieth century, the term slow-ball was used to denote pitches not a fastball or breaking ball, which almost always meant a type of changeup. Therefore, the terms slow-ball and changeup could be used interchangeably.

The changeup is thrown with the same arm action as a fastball, but at a lower velocity due to the pitcher holding the ball in a special grip. Leo Mazzone states: "When a pitcher throws his best fastball, he puts more in it; the changeup is such that one throws something other than his best fastball. By having this mindset, the pitch will have less velocity on it in addition to the change in grips. This difference from what is expected by the arm action and the velocity can confuse the batter into swinging the bat far too early and thus receiving a strike, or not swinging at all. Should a batter be fooled on the timing of the pitch and still make contact, it will cause a foul ball or the ball being put into play weakly, usually resulting in an out. In addition to the unexpectedly slow velocity, the changeup can also possess a significant amount of movement, which can bewilder the batter even further. The very best changeups utilize both deception and movement."[1]

The grip used for a circle changeup

Since the rise of Pedro Martínez, a Dominican pitcher whose changeup was one of the tools that led to his three Cy Young awards, the changeup has become increasingly popular in the Dominican Republic[2]. Dominican pitchers including Edinson Volquez, Michael Ynoa, and Ervin Santana are all known to have developed effective changeups in the Dominican Republic after Martinez’s success with the pitch.[citation needed] Volquez threw changeups 31.9% of the time in 2008, more than any other starter, and James Shields threw it 26.3% of the time, tops in the AL.[3]

The changeup is analogous to the slower ball in cricket.


There are several variations of changeups, which are generated by using different grips on the ball during the pitch.

The most common type is the straight change. The ball is held with three fingers (instead of the usual two) and closer to the palm, to kill some of the speed generated by the wrist and fingers. This pitch generally breaks downward slightly, though its motion does not differ greatly from a two-seam fastball.

Another common grip is the circle changeup. The pitcher forms a circle with his index finger and thumb and lays his middle and index fingers across the seams of the ball. By pronating his wrist upon release, the pitcher can make the pitch break in the same direction as a screwball. More or less break will result from the pitcher's arm slot. Pedro Martínez has used this pitch throughout his career to great effect, and many consider it to be his best pitch.[4]

Other variations include the palmball, vulcan changeup and fosh. The split-finger fastball is used by many pitchers as a type of changeup.


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