What’s a ‘Ghost Pitch’? Inside Newest New York Mets’ Bizarre Unhittable Weapon
Kodai Senga has been in Spring Training camp with the New York Mets for less than one week, and he's already the talk of the team.
A free agent signing out of Nippon Professional Baseball, Senga has yet to throw a pitch in a regular season MLB game, but has been turning heads for a number of reasons in the early days of the spring. After a subpar debut bullpen session last week, Senga took the mound again this weekend, and reportedly dazzled Mets' hitters in the live hitting session on Sunday.
The star of the show for Senga was something that's become known as a 'ghost pitch'. What's the secret behind this spook-tacular strikeout pitch?
Inside Kodai Senga's "Ghost Pitch" Phenomenon in New York
A story from MLB.com shared details from Kodai Senga's most recent appearance for the New York Mets during their Spring Training camp, an outing that stole headlines for Senga's use of his ghost pitch.
Among the players that were featured in this live hitting session was Mets' first baseman, Pete Alonso, who had the following to say about Senga and his signature pitch:
It's a fascinating pitch to have in your arsenal, and one that's become somewhat of a lost art in modern-day pitching. The "ghost pitch" is actually a nickname given to the real pitch that Senga throws: a forkball.
It's a difficult pitch to develop, but if you're able to master the throwing motion for it, the pitch can be devastating. Senga's fits that description, with those who have seen it before saying that it's truly like a ghost, you see it, then you don’t.
Throwing a forkball, or a split-fingered fastball, is not easy to do. You split your pointer finger and middle finger as wide as you can can, and hold the ball with those two fingers making the shape of a horseshoe.
In a similar way that a changeup works, a forkball spins like a fastball would, but comes out of the hand much slower, and can drop dramatically on its way from the pitcher's mound to home plate.
Simply put, if thrown the right way at the right time, it's one of the more devastating strikeout pitches in baseball.
Here's what concerns me, though: the strain that a pitcher puts on their forearm by spreading their fingers that wide can have a negative impact on the shoulder and elbow. Throwing that pitch too much can deterioitate the arm at a faster rate than those that do not feature the pitch in their arsenal.
Kodai Senga will absolutely make a few hitters look foolish at the plate with his ghost pitch in 2023, but don't expect to see it too often. If he wants to remain healthy for his five-year contract in New York, and beyond, it may be for the best.