Dallas Keuchel’s Changeup Has Stayed the Same, While Brent Suter’s Has EvolvedBaseball 

Dallas Keuchel’s Changeup Has Stayed the Same, While Brent Suter’s Has Evolved


© Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Learning and Developing a Pitch series is back for another season, and once again, we’re hearing from pitchers on a notable weapon in their arsenal. Today’s installment features a pair of southpaws — White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel and Brewers reliever Brent Suter — on their changeups.

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Dallas Keuchel, Chicago White Sox

“A changeup was the first pitch I learned growing up. My dad never let me throw a breaking ball. He just had me split my fingers and try to throw a fastball as hard as I could. That was probably … let me think for a moment with my Rolodex here. I was maybe eight years old? Regardless, I don’t know how many miles per hour it was off, but it had some good deception and movement, so that’s what I rolled with through a lot of my childhood.

“I didn’t grip it like a palm ball, but a kid’s fingers are obviously smaller than the baseball, so we just tinkered with splitting the two fingers. What stuck was splitting three fingers together, instead of a circle change. It’s more of a three-finger prong changeup. When I say prong, what I mean is like a fork. But it worked well for me. It just kind of rolled off, and I’d get some whiffs and some weak contact.

Dallas Keuchel’s changeup grip.

“My hands obviously got bigger, but it’s basically the same grip. It’s also still the same concept as when I was a kid. It’s a fastball that’s not. Sometimes I try to get too fine with it and try to take 10, 12, 13 [mph] off, but really, it’s all about deception and late movement. When I remind myself of that is when I get back to establishing what I did as a kid, which is throwing a fastball that’s not.

“Essentially, what I want is for it to have the same spin as my two-seam. It does have similar traits, but again, it’s a fastball that’s not. So while it profiles similarly to my two-seam, at the same time there is that back and forth difference, which is what it’s really all about.

“Movement-wise, I’d say there are probably a few inches more on the changeup, although my two-seam has moved more the last few years. They profile about 14-15 horizontal and about three or four vertical. If I throw a really good one, and it’s more downward, it’s 12-14 horizontal and about six to eight down. At different points, they could be much the same, or [the changeup] could be a little more vertical. I’d like to have a little more vertical, to show the hitter that it’s in the middle of the plate, and then have it not be there. It fell out.”

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Brent Suter, Milwaukee Brewers

“The changeup has been a pitch that tends to be difficult for me, because I’m a guy who wants to cut the ball. Getting arm-side movement, getting horizontal spin, is really difficult for me. So, my grip has kind of evolved. I’m basically using my ring and pinky finger now, as a way to kind of cheat to the tilt. I’m getting some of the horizontal spin that I want, and getting my middle finger and pointer out of there has also helped get the speed off.

Brent Suter’s changeup grip.

“In 2019, when I was rehabbing from Tommy John, my pitching coordinator — the throwing coach out there — said, ‘Why don’t you put your grip all the way out here?’ It was really funky at first. It felt really weird. But then I started holding the ball at night, and started getting more comfortable with it. Soon it became kind of the grip for me. I went away from it in 2020, because it was feeling funky, but then I brought it back towards the middle of last year.

“I probably first started learning a changeup in middle school, or maybe late in grade school. I know that I didn’t throw a curveball until my freshman year of high school. But the [changeup] grip is much different now. Before, it was just kind of your standard … I maybe circled it a little bit, but it was just your standard middle finger/ring finger two-seam. I’ve shifted completely over to where it’s ring finger and pinky. That was in 2019. I wasn’t getting enough arm-side movement. I also wasn’t getting enough spin off, or enough speed off. It was like a soft sinker, basically. It also didn’t have a whole lot of depth. Now I get more speed off, more depth, and it goes away from right-handed hitters better.

“In terms of spin, it’s a lot of RPMs off my fastball, but I would still like to get more spin off of it. I’d like to be close to 1,000 RPMs if I could, and I think I’m more in the 1,400-1,500 range. That remains kind of a work-in-progress, but getting that depth and arm-side movement is what I really want.”

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