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Knockout pitches

Mariano Rivera has littered many infields with broken bats, proving it's not all about throwing pure heat.

Originally Published: April 20, 2004
By Sean McAdam | Special to ESPN.com

Every major league pitcher has an out-pitch -- the weapon of choice when it's time to put a hitter away. It's just that some are better -- sometimes, much better -- than others. That's what separates the great pitchers from the merely average.

An ordinary 88-mph fastball isn't going to do the job -- unless it features extraordinary movement. Often, an out-pitch is a breaking pitch or off-speed pitch, which makes recognition tougher while disrupting timing.

The good ones can't be hit ...

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