Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.
Ron Darling, Former All-Star
“When I first started throwing a split, I was one of those pitchers who could never develop a changeup. I was in the minor leagues with Al Jackson, who was a crafty left-hander in his day, and he taught me a screwball. He used to throw one. I got very adept at it, but it made my arm hurt. I had to develop a change-of-pace pitch that didn’t hurt my elbow, and that’s how the split-finger came to be.
“It was an era where the pitch was popular. Roger Craig taught it to a lot of pitchers, but it was a split-finger fastball for those guys. For me it was more of a forkball. It was something soft that I could combine with my fastball and hard curveball.