My understanding is that this is done in critical situations, as when there are opposing men on base, usually more than one.

Is this true and if so, why is that? Is it to increase the chances of striking out the next batter, or otherwise decrease that chances of the batter making contact with the ball that may even get him out, but advance the runners?


3 Answers 3


There are two ways to deliver a pitch from the mound:

  1. The windup
  2. The stretch

Most pitchers will pitch out of the windup when there are no runners on base. It usually helps with the pitchers rhythm. They are able to use a high leg kick and deliver a pitch.

Some relievers will pitch out of the stretch whether or not there is a runner on base. This is because they often come in with runners on base and their rhythm is to pitch out of the stretch.

As for the stretch, it is used to deter the other teams runners from stealing a base. If the pitcher was in the windup, as soon as he started his windup the runners can steal. If the pitchers stops his windup that would be a balk with runners on base. He can still pick from the windup by stepping off with his foot that is on the rubber. (RHP would step off with his right foot and vice versa for a LHP.)

In the stretch pitchers will slide step to deliver the ball quickly to home. This is when they step to home without bringing their lead leg up very far from the ground. Many pitchers can be around 1.2 seconds to home plate with the slide step, giving the catcher a good chance to throw a stealing runner out.

Basically the difference is in the time to the plate, which is why all pitchers pitch out of the stretch with runners on 1st and or 2nd.

One side note is that with a runner on third some pitchers may choose to pitch out of the windup because in order to get the runner out stealing home, they simply have to get the ball to the catcher. This is a per pitcher and situation type of thing and while not common, it is certainly not rare.

Usually there is a slight to mild drop off in the effectiveness of pitchers pitches when they are in the stretch, especially using a slide step.

Here is a brief Wiki article that may help understanding

  • Also worth noting that if a pitcher is pitching out of the windup, runners may leave the instant he begins moving his left foot (for a right-handed pitcher). If the pitcher stops the pitching movement during the windup, it's a balk. That's also why if a pitcher is in the windup and they want to step off the rubber, they must do it with their right foot.
    – TheGeneral
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 22:23
  • Another interesting note is that starting pitcher David Price always pitches out of the stretch, which is unusual for a starting pitcher.
    – TheGeneral
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 22:24
  • @TheGeneral David Price does pitch from the windup, it is a very simplified windup that is close to pitching from the stretch.
    – diggers3
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 1:59

When pitching out of the stretch you have two main advantages:

  1. When you are in your set position you can still attempt a pick-off. So after you have brought your hands together and foot back, you can still attempt to throw to any base.

  2. This is the biggest reason... You don't lose time stepping backwards. In the wind-up you are required to step behind the mound with your non-mound foot before delivering the ball home. No matter how fast you are at doing this it has to take at least .5 second and more than enough time to give even the slowest runners an extra 10 feet.

Can you pick a guy off out of the full wind-up:

Yes. Just step behind the mound with your mound pivot foot and throw to any base.

When do guys go to the stretch:

When there is any runner on base. Even with a man on third almost all pitchers would be in the stretch. Pitchers don't practice stepping back fast so their backwards step to forward motion could take longer than a second which would allow average runners to take home.

Why do some guys always throw from the stretch:

The wind-up has the advantage of giving you more momentum. But some guys give that away for familiarity. You can't be in the wind-up all the time but you can be in the stretch all the time. So by only practicing pitching from the stretch you get extra practice with arm angles and release points.

  • One note is that you do not have to step behind the rubber in the wind up. You just have to begin the windup with your non rubber foot (left foot for RHP, and right foot for LHP).
    – diggers3
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 22:00

The stertch a small part of the set pitching position The set for right handed pitcher Stand in front of rubber with toes pointing towards third..arms apart on the sides This position is called the stretch part of the pitch because the pitcher usually stretches to look toward home plate to take the sign from the catcher.. delivery begins when he puts his arms together in front of him( a movement noticed by a pause)This is called"coming set"After coming set a step is taken toward home and the pitch is delivered sometimes using a high kick,,,sometimes a leg slide The wind up on top or in front of rubber with feet pointed toward home plate Prir to throwing the pitch he may take a step back toward second or to either side during the delivery he must take a step forward toward home plate....There is a lot more to it than this Hpe this helps

  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 21:20

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