Pitching Rules Summary
Taking Signs and Disengaging
- Pitchers must take their signs while engaged with the rubber.
- If a pitcher wants to step off the rubber after taking a sign or for any other reason, he must separate his hands.
- When in the set position, the pitcher must disengage with his pivot foot if he wishes to step back, and he must also separate his hands.
- In the set position, when the pitcher makes contact with the rubber initially, he must have both hands free. In other words, his pitching hand must be beside his side or behind him – before he starts his motion. Normally, this hand separation takes place while taking his signs from the catcher. The penalty is a warning 901(b). Repeat offenses may result in ejection.
- With runners on base, failure to disengage with the pivot foot first is considered a BALK.
Pitchers Going to the Mouth
- In MLB, the pitcher is not allowed to go to the mouth with his pitching hand while on the dirt of the mound.
- The penalty for this is a BALL to the batter.
Two Legal Pitching Positions- Wind-up and the Set position
- In both positions, when he starts his normal delivery motion, he must commit his pitch to the batter without interruption.
- In the wind-up positions a pitcher can do three (3) things:
deliver to the batter
step and throw to a base
disengage the rubber, separate his hand before stepping back.
Motions Associated with Delivery- Failure to deliver when motions to home plate are evident, is a BALK with runners on.
- From either legal position, once a pitcher’s free foot starts his leg lift and that foot crosses the back edge of the rubber, there’s only two (2) legal moves he can make:
deliver to the batter
turn and make his throw, or feint to throw to second base.
Motions Specific to First Base- The pitcher can not throw a pick-off to first base when it’s unoccupied by a fielder making a play on the runner. If the pitcher’s throw is to first with no one covering and it’s directly to the bag and goes into foul territory, the ball remains alive and in play with no balk.
- From the wind-up or the set position, the pitcher is not allowed to feint a throw to first base while in contact with the rubber. He can however while in contact with the rubber feint or throw to any other base – second and third.
- However, if the pitcher properly disengages his pivot foot, he can feint a throw to first base.
Feinting and Throwing to Second Base- If the pitcher’s free foot does not land behind the rubber when throwing or faking a throw to second base, he has BALKED. In any event, arm motion is not required, but a step to second is.
Feinting and Throwing to Third Base- The pitcher’s free foot must step in the direction of third base, but, the pivot foot does not have to disengage from the rubber.
- Arm motion is not required, but a step to third is.
Dropping the Ball
- Dropping the ball while in contact with the rubber and with runners on is a BALK.
- If the ball is dropped out of the pitcher’s hand during his delivery, with no runners on, the umpire shall call “TIME – NO PITCH, unless the ball crosses the foul line.
- If the ball crosses the foul line, the umpire shall call “BALL”.