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Controlling The Running Game as a Pitcher

Controlling The Running Game as a Pitcher

Controlling the running game as a pitcher is important. It is a big part of a pitchers defense. By controlling the running game pitchers can add another weapon to their arsenol that can make a big difference in games.

When it comes to controlling the running game a pitcher should not only know how but also know when. This takes controlling the running game from just a physical (knowing how) to a mental (knowing when or why). A team that has a lot of baserunners is trying to do a few things. The main objective is to get runners into scoring position. While they are doing this they are creating more fastballs for the hitters to hit and disrupting the pitchers timing. That is why it is important to know how, when, and why to control the running game.

The first thing you would want to do as a pitcher is identify potential runners on the team you are facing. You can tell who these guys are pretty much right away. They are usually the 1,2, and 9 hitters, they are usually outfielders, you can tell from their stats, or just by looking at them. Once you have those guys picked out then you should classify them into groups.

The first group are the guys who are base stealers. They are fast, get good jumps, and are going to steal a lot of bases durinig the season. These guys you should try to hold as much as you can but they are still going to get some stolen bases no matter what.

The next group are the count runners. They will run in certain situations, on certain pitches, and hit and run. These guys are the guys that you should really focus on because you can control what they do. A pitcher who really controls the running game can shut down these guys so they can't do anything.

The third group are the non runners. These guys won't run for anything except a ball in the dirt. You shouldn't pay these guys much attention. Focus on the hitter and throw strikes.

By knowing which guys fall into which category we can save time and effort and be most efficient when it comes to controlling the running game. Wouldn't it stink if you threw a ball away trying to pick off someone who wasn't even a threat. That can change the whole outcome of the game.

Controlling the running game doesn't necessarily mean we have to pick people off however. What we are trying to do is disrupt the runners timing, cut down leads, and eliminate jumps. All we have to do to do this is vary our looks and be quick to the plate.

By varying looks I mean one time holding the baseball in the set position for 1 second and another time holding it for 4 seconds. Changing the looks everytime will keep the runner off balanced. A pitcher should mix up the sequence of how he holds as well. A couple short together, a couple long, one short, one long, no look, just keep switching it up on them.

As for quickness to the plate, it should take a pitcher between 1.2 and 1.3 seconds from the time when he breaks the set until the ball hits the catchers glove. By doing this you will give your catcher the best opportunity to throw out base stealers. Just be sure that you can control your body and pitches being quick. Sometimes when a pitcher tries to be too fast his arm will be left behind. This leads him to throw the ball out of the zone, not to mention leaving him susceptible to injury. Being controlled and quick is the goal.