Strategy Guide
The Noob Guide to Pitching

Now that both MLB 2K9 and MLB 09: The Show are available, gamers may need to work on their pitching strategies in order to have success in these games. While both games have different pitching controls, the general strategies consumers should use against opposing batters are relatively similar.

With that being said, here are a few general rules users should follow in order to achieve success on the mound against a majority of hitters.

Starting Off Right (0-0 Count)

The user has a lot of freedom when facing a new hitter. Usually, though, it is best to throw a strike in this count. The pitch should never be thrown straight down the middle of the plate, but it is always better to be ahead in the count against a hitter. If the first pitch is a ball, the pitcher is already giving his opponent an advantage, and allowing the hitter to become more comfortable at the plate.

Many different pitches can be thrown successfully in this count. Generally, a fastball is thrown, but batters are sometimes looking for a fastball and will make solid contact with it. Instead, I like to start off with a changeup or a breaking ball to get the hitter off balance. As long as it is a strike, though, the pitcher is at an advantage and now has a greater chance of making the batter chase a bad pitch.

Make the Batter Look Foolish (0-2 Count)

This is a pitcher’s favorite count, not only because he has the hitter backed into a corner, but also because this count allows a pitcher to pull out all kinds of nasty pitches in his repertoire -- all with the intent of making the batter look like an amateur by swinging at a terrible pitch. In this count, I will rarely throw a fastball unless I am facing a weak opposing pitcher. Mainly, I will focus on throwing any breaking pitches I have in my arsenal.

So, that tends to mean throwing a slider that begins on the outside part of the plate and breaks away from the batter, or a curveball that bounces in the dirt. If the pitch does not get the batter to look foolish, I know that I still have an advantage over the batter in a 1-2 count, and I can approach my next pitch with the same mindset.

Settle Down and Throw Strikes (2-0 Count)

In this count, the user needs to settle down and concentrate on getting pitches over the plate. In this situation, it is usually best to throw at least one fastball. It is a straight pitch, so it should be relatively easy to locate in the strike zone, and it will also give the pitcher a little more room to work with while trying to get the batter out. A changeup is another good pitch to throw because, once again, it is a straight pitch and is relatively easy to locate. A succession of fastball, changeup will also get the batter off balance and will likely get the count back to 2-2.

Pitching is probably the most important aspect to nail down in any baseball game.

You Now Have a Choice (3-0 Count)

Generally, a 3-0 count means that the pitcher needs to settle down immediately and throw a strike, likely a fastball. If the pitcher gets a strike over on a 3-0 count, he is still not out of trouble, though, as he will likely have to make another good pitch to the batter. However, as I referred to earlier, a fastball should not be thrown directly over the middle of the plate. It would be too tempting for the hitter to swing at the pitch and make solid contact.

The pitcher also has another choice in this situation, though. Depending on whether or not anyone is on base, and who is at the plate, it may be the best choice to simply walk the batter. By doing this, the pitcher can start over with the next batter, allowing him the chance to regroup and hopefully get a first-pitch strike so that he has an early advantage over the batter.

Similarly, this keeps the pitcher from worrying too much about throwing a strike and lobbing a fastball over the middle of the plate, possibly resulting in a home run. A walk is always preferred over a home run.

Paint the Corners (2-2 Count)

For an even count, such as 2-2, the pitcher should not yet be willing to give into the batter and throw a very good pitch. However, it is a good count for the pitcher to try to paint the corners. As is the key in any of these counts, the pitch should never be straight down the middle, or it will likely be punished by the batter. A good curveball or fastball on the outside or inside corner would be a good pitch in this situation. Personally, I am a big fan of an inside fastball because the hitter is trying to protect the plate in this count, so he will likely swing at a pitch that is too far inside and miss. Also, if he does manage to make contact with an inside pitch, it will likely result in a weakly hit ball and an easy out.

The Payoff Pitch (3-2 Count)

At this point in the count, the pitcher needs to simply focus on getting the batter out. Depending on your pitcher and previous sequence of pitches, you could potentially throw any number of different pitches in this count. If you have a power pitcher, such as Joel Zumaya, you may want to rely on your fastball to get a hitter out. Similarly, with a pitcher like Tim Lincecum, his 12-6 curveball may be the best option. Whichever pitcher the user is controlling, the best pitch in his repertoire is what should be used in this count. It is not only the most effective pitch, but also the pitch with which the pitcher has the most confidence in throwing for a strike.

Develop Your Own Strategy

No matter what game is in your collection, the guidelines to becoming a successful pitcher remain the same. However, remember that there are no steadfast rules in pitching. On an 0-2 count, the pitcher could go right after the hitter with a fastball and get the out. One of the most important rules to remember, though, is to always mix up your pitches and attempt to outsmart the batter. If you can get the hitter off balance and guessing, you are one step closer to becoming a successful pitcher.

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