The pitcher is a player and / or a position in baseball and softball . The pitcher is often referred to in German as a thrower . While his team is field team, he usually stands in the middle of the infield on the pitcher's mound , a 30 cm high hill, and from there throws the batter (also called hitter) of the batting team, or the catcher of his own crouching behind it Team that balls . A good pitcher is characterized by throws that are difficult to hit. Several different throwing techniques (e.g. fastball - the most commonly used throw -, change-up , curveball , slider , knuckleball ) are used to make the throws more difficult for the batter to predict.
The pitcher is the most specialized position in the game of baseball. Since he is constantly in action, he usually has to be replaced at least once during the game and often only plays every fourth to fifth game - especially in the US professional leagues with their many encounters. Some pitchers also specialize in the player opening (Starting Pitcher) , middle game ( Reliever or Setup Man ) or final phase (Closer) .
The pitcher's goal is to get hitters out . This can happen through the strikeout , through the fly out or - as a third possibility - through the ground out . Good preparation before the game is essential, which means scouting out the opposing team in order to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. The basic strategy is to disrupt the hitter's timing. To do this, you change the speed and the goal of the pitches ("change speed and locations"). The repertoire of a pitcher (even stuff called) should in addition to the fastball and slow offspeed pitches (eg. The changeup, palm ball and knuckleball) contain equally important are Breaking balls (z. B. slider, cutter , splitter, curveball) , balls that change their flight direction significantly. This means that the hitter cannot fixate on a pitch (“to keep the hitter honest”). It is very important that the throwing movement and the throwing are indistinguishable for the hitter as long as possible. The movement should therefore take place as late as possible. It is generally considered risky to pitch into the strike zone at the top because the hitter can keep hitting these balls. It is also considered safer to pitch outside (the so-called outer edge of the strike zone) away from the hitter, but that depends heavily on the respective hitter.
Because most pitchers are only bad batsmen because of their focus on throwing training, in some leagues - including the German Bundesliga and the American League - as well as in international matches, it has been allowed for the pitcher to completely miss the attack and instead one since the 1960s tenth player, the designated hitter , beats. He suspends in defense. However, other leagues - especially the National League and many recreational leagues - do not allow this. For matches between teams from two leagues that regulate this differently, the home team rule applies. In most cases, the pitcher has its own warm-up area, the so-called bullpen .
The throwing movement has become very specialized over time: In the first picture you can see the high leg kick to prepare for the expansive step, which is practically like a run-up. A real run-up is not allowed, one foot must always remain in contact with the pitcher's plate , a rectangle made of hard rubber in the ground. In the second picture you can see how the pitcher takes his expansive step. The legs are on a line in the direction of the throw. In the third picture you can see the main part of the throwing motion. The lower body rotates parallel to home plate , the hand is brought back extremely and then with a double sling motion (shoulder and elbow as axis) to snap forward. This creates extreme loads on the shoulders and elbows. The twisting of the hips is not to be underestimated. In the fourth picture you can see how the body resonates. The movement of the wrist and the point where the ball is released (release point) are important for the throw .
Types of pitchers
In the early days of baseball, it was common for the launching Pitcher performed all litters: Cy Young for. B. completed 749 complete games. The more this position specialized, the more types of pitchers emerged that complemented each other:
- Starting pitchers open the game and are i. d. Usually the best pitchers on the team. They are expected to hold off the opposing offensive at least until the 5th inning. As a rule, a team has five to six starting pitchers. The Ace Pitcher is considered the team's best starting pitcher and is allowed to play on the prestigious “Opening Day” (1st matchday of the new season).
Relief pitchers are substitute pitchers who replace the starting pitchers. They are usually not expected to play more than three innings, which is why several relievers often take turns .
- The middle relief pitcher replaces the starting pitcher from the 5th inning and usually throws for two to three innings.
- The long relief pitcher replaces a starting pitcher who allowed many hits early on. Since the long reliever is needed in crisis situations, it is also called a fireman .
- The setup pitcher throws after the middle or long relief pitcher, usually in the 7th and 8th innings.
- The closing pitcher usually comes in a lead in the 8th or 9th inning and is supposed to secure the victory with a save . It is uncommon for closing pitcher to substitute when they are behind.
- The left-handed specialist is a left-handed pitcher who is particularly effective against left-handed batter. It is also called "LOOGY" (Lefty One-Out GuY, German: left-handed one-out person) because it is usually supposed to provide exactly one out , after which it is immediately exchanged for another relief pitcher.