Understanding Rapsodo Pitching Data: Break Profile (Changeup)

The key to an effective off-speed pitch, in terms of movement, is killing vertical break. What we mean by this is getting vertical break as low as possible while still maintaining release measurements that are  similar to  the pitcher’s fastball release. Based on my experience, an 8-inch vertical break difference between the fastball and changeup is a benchmark to aim for when developing offspeed pitches.   

Circle changeups are effective options for just about every pitcher’s repertoire since their movement profile can be paired and tunneled with multiple fastball types. These pitches can also be thrown from a variety of spin directions and even within a wide range of spin efficiencies.

As stated earlier, the goal should be to minimize vertical break as much as possible, generating at least eight inches of difference off the fastball. Horizontal break should be at least equal to the horizontal break of the fastball; increasing this will give the pitch increased fading action.  

Straight changeups and splitters typically have much lower horizontal break measurements than other offspeed pitches and rely more on velocity difference and tumbling action to be effective. 

Since these are generally thrown with near-perfect spin efficiency, a great way to kill vertical break is by lowering spin rate and incorporating as much gyroscopic spin as possible while maintaining feel and arm speed and slot. 

Frisbee changeups are also generally thrown with high spin efficiency, but their spin direction causes them to move with extreme arm-side run. Based on its average spin direction (3:00 and 9:00 for righthanders and lefthanders, respectively), this changeup type works best with low-slot pitchers with heavy sinking fastballs. Vertical break needs to be minimized as much as possible while maximizing horizontal break; MLB averages are near 0” and 20”, respectively.