MLB The Show 17 is definitely an offense-driven game. With helpful on-field cues to catch fly balls, automatically aligning infielders who get a good jump on grounders off the bat, and an intuitive pitching system, you could argument could be made that the every game comes down to who can take care of business at the plate.
Sometimes, though, even the best players struggle at bat. When getting on base is a challenge — let alone tacking on runs — having a steady command of your defense will keep you in the game. From solid pitching strategies to best fielding practices, here’s what you should keep in mind to get through your opponent’s at bats as unscathed as possible.
Everything on the defensive side of the ball begins, and possibly ends, with your pitcher.
The basics: By default, The Show features a pitching meter. Press the button assigned to the pitch you’d like to throw, confirm it, then the meter rises. Your goal is to press your pitch button when the meter is in the red zone on its way up, and then again on its way down. To throw a “perfect pitch,” you must tap the button at the very end of the meter on the way up, then hit the bright yellow line on the edge of the red zone on the way down.
The timing of these presses changes based on your pitcher’s confidence and energy. Stopping it in the red isn’t particularly difficult, but lining up perfect throws, particularly with the initial slim yellow line, can be tough.
If you’re having trouble making your throws, we found that paying attention to the pitcher’s motion helped us find our timing with the pitching meter. By looking at the pitcher’s arm, you get a more natural vision of where to press the button during the followthrough. Each pitcher’s windup and delivery is different, but after a few pitches, watching them in action becomes far more intuitive than focusing the brunt of your attention on the meter.
Managing velocity: A pitcher’s velocity determines the speed and break of a pitch. In The Show‘s pitching meter, velocity is measured as the top portion, which we referred to as the red zone. The closer to the top that you stop the meter, the more velocity the pitch will have. While hitting the far end of the red zone will deliver the fastest pitch, you should not aim for edge of the meter every time. Setting aside the fact that faster pitches are harder to throw accurately, trying to pitch that 100mph fastball isn’t always smart. Overthrowing too often will wear out your pitchers — especially your starters — and send them in to ice their shoulder early.
We recommend shooting for close to maximum velocity with relief and closing pitchers near the end of the game. With starting pitchers, try and stop the meter before the halfway mark in the red. Your starting pitcher in online matches is typically your ace, and conserving his energy — the green meter on-screen — is important. Energy depletes as the pitch count increases, but also from the pitcher’s exertion. More velocity equals more strain. If you can outlast your opponent’s starting pitcher, you’re usually on the right track.
Pitch usage: Each pitcher has 3-5 pitch types, a mix of fastballs and offspeed breaking pitches. Generally speaking, the majority of pitches — especially those from starting pitchers — are of the fastball variety. You should mix up pitches between fastballs and breaking balls, but the The Show is dedicated to realism, meaning that the fastball should be your go-to pitch. It also happens to be the easiest pitch to place.
While there’s no set formula for how to pick a throw, we’ve compiled a list of every pitch you might encounter so you’ll be ready for anything.
- Four-seam fastball: The hardest pitch in your arsenal. They follow on a straight path, and have no discernible movement. They are also the easiest to place where you want them
- Two-seam fastball: Similar to the four-seam fastball, but not quite as rigid, and can be bit harder to place. The pitch moves in a relatively straight line but usually sinks a bit over the plate.
- Running fastball: Virtually identical to a two-seam fastball.
- Sinker: Dips more noticeably than a two seam fastball.
- Cutter: Moves slightly in the direction of the pitcher’s glove. For right handers, it curves left, for left handers it curves right.
- Curveball: The most common breaking ball, the curveball has dramatic forward spin on the ball which causes it to dip dramatically and sweep across the plate.
- Sweeping Curve: A sweeping curveball has moves laterally with greater effect than a traditional curveball.
- 12-6 Curve: As hinted by its name, the 12-6 curve starts off high and gradually drops in flight.
- Slider: Similar to a Cutter, but more pronounced. This breaking pitch moves across the pitcher’s body and downward.
- Slurve: Derived from the slider and curveball, the slurve is almost indistinguishable from a slider in The Show.
- Knuckle curve: A curveball with two different variations. The first offers more control than the traditional curve with more controlled spin. The second has spin like a regular curveball while holding onto some of the unpredictability of a knuckleball.
- Screwball: This breaking ball curves away from the pitcher rather than back across the pitcher’s body like other breaking pitches.
- Splitter: The splitter, A.K.A. the split-finger fastball, looks like a normal fastball, but is actually a changeup. It appears to drop off suddenly at the plate to confuse batters.
- Knuckleball: A good knuckle ball spins minimally, if at all, in the air. The absence of spin causes the ball to take an unpredictable path towards the plate.
- Circle changeup: Thrown like a two seam fastball, the circle changeup mirrors the two-seamer’s minimal movement, but as an off-speed pitch.
- Palmball: With low velocity, and the appearance of a fastball, the palmball is meant to be thrown to overeager batters prone to swinging early.
- Forkball: Related to the splitter, the forkball moves a bit slower and drops off at the plate.
- Vulcanchange: Similar tot he circle changeup, but with a greater drop off at the plate.
Pitch placement: By default, The Show provides a strike zone overlay. Any pitch that crosses the plate inside that zone, and sometimes around its edges, is typically called a strike. Portions of the zone — one or more of the nine sections — may appear red, indicating that the batter excels at hitting pitches placed in the highlighted locations. Avoiding those areas is important, but you should also focus your efforts on throwing to the corners and edges of the zone. Tossing one down the center of the plate, even a screeching fastball, is never a good move. For breaking pitches, this means that you will often want to start the pitch outside of the zone, and let it work back in. If facing a same-handed player, try and start your breaking pitches inside to crowd the batter, as the pitch will break away from their stance.
Your pitcher’s confidence, the blue meter, is affected by your strike/ball ratio, as well as securing outs. The more batters a pitcher retires without allowing excessive hits and runs, the higher your followthrough meter climbs. Keep this in mind when you are trying to get opponents to chase pitches purposefully thrown as balls. If they swing, it will help your confidence meter, but if they lay off of your errant tosses, the size of the followthrough meter grows thinner.
Using your bullpen: In a nine-inning game, you will almost always have to swap in a pitcher from your bullpen. Even if your starter is having a phenomenal day on the mound, you should consider getting a fresh arm in there. The best moment to bring in a new pitcher varies, but you should usually look to sit your starting pitcher in the sixth or seventh inning. You should not wait until your pitcher can’t throw anymore before taking him out. You need to have forethought, and that comes with getting a new pitcher ready to come into the game.
You have the option to either “Stretch & Toss” or “Warm Up” up to two pitchers at any time. Under normal circumstances, we recommend setting a reliever to warm up, which lets your reliever get fully “hot” before trotting out to the mound, an inning before you plan to put him in. For example, if you plan on taking out your starting pitcher at the beginning of the seventh, start warming up a reliever at the beginning of the sixth.
Stretch and Toss, which gives pitchers a less effective warm up mid-inning, should be reserved for your starting pitcher has stayed in too long and is showing signs of slowing down. Though it’s always better to give your relievers a full warm-up, you still have a way to mitigate the damage and get yourself out an unexpected jam.
Since you have two spots, we recommend warming up a righty and a lefty at the same time so that you can make the most out of your new pitcher’s first matchup, i.e. righty versus righty, lefty versus lefty.
Fielding tips and tricks
As mentioned above, MLB The Show 17 has intuitive fielding, complete with fluid player animations that tend to help steer you in the right direction. Even though the mechanics are setting you up for success, there are still some things you should know to keep your opponent from rounding the bases.
Charge your throws: You have the ability to pre-load your throws in the field. Routine grounders to your shortstop don’t necessarily require this, but if you get in the habit of charging your throw before the ball is even in your glove, you’ll be able to convert tough outs more often. For instance, a dribbler to third base by your opponent’s speediest batter may result in an infield hit if you don’t charge your throw as your third basemen runs up on it. In the outfield, sometimes there will even be a blue line cast on the ball icon in the outfield. If you position yourself under that line, you can charge your throw.
Use the cutoff man: Especially when throwing across the field, using the cutoff man in the outfield will go a long way to prevent unforced errors, and help get the ball to its desired location quicker. You have to judge based on distance, but if a ball is hit towards the back portion of the outfield, you’ll generally want to use L1 when throwing back to the infield. Your fielder probably won’t have enough strength to heave it all the way back in, regardless of the base you are throwing to. The cutoff man should be used on throws to home from this location, and should also be used when throwing from right field to third base.
Watch for the tag: With runners on base, you should not relax on a routine fly ball. Watch for runners to tag up after the catch is made. In general, you’re unlikely to catch a runner returning to his base to tag up, so your attention should be focused on the base he might try and advance to. Never sit on a ball after a catch is made in the outfield, but if you are unsure of where to throw it, use the cutoff man and go from there.
Turning double plays: Double play balls can get you out of sticky situations, and while they come in all different varieties, there’s an important guideline to consider when deciding how to go about turning two. Throwing to record outs is almost always superior to running.
If a runner is on first, for example and a grounder is hit in that direction, you may be tempted to step on the first base bag before throwing to first. But unless the grounder literally comes to the bag, you should throw to second, and then throw to first for the second out. If you don’t, you’re unlikely to record the out at second, simply because of how much extra time it takes to scurry to the bag before throwing. This mantra applies to plays all around the infield.
Stealing/Pickoffs: When runners are on base, there’s always the threat that they will try to steal. First, know that unless a runner has a high speed stat your opponent is ill-advised to steal; if they try with a slowpoke, it’s fairly easy for your catcher to throw them out. If you are worried about a speedster, though, you can set yourself up to catch them throwing a pitch out with L1 and X. This will set up your catcher for a quick throw to either second or third. As far as picking off runners who take extended leads, the pick off is such a rare play in baseball that we suggest avoiding it altogether. There’s a far better chance that the throw will turn into an error than an out.
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