Pitcher

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Traditionally, the pitcher also bats. Starting in 1973 with the American League and spreading to further leagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the hitting duties of the pitcher have generally been given over to the position of designated hitter, a cause of some controversy. The National League in Major League Baseball and the Japanese Central League are among the remaining leagues that have not adopted the designated hitter position.

Overview

(video) Hiroshima Toyo Carp number 18, Kenta Maeda, pitching a ball.

In most cases, the objective of the pitcher is to deliver the pitch to the catcher without allowing the batter to hit the ball with the bat. A successful pitch is delivered in such a way that the batter either allows the pitch to pass through the strike zone, swings the bat at the ball and misses it, or hits the ball poorly (resulting in a pop fly or ground out). If the batter elects not to swing at the pitch, it is called a strike if any part of the ball passes through the strike zone and a ball when no part of the ball passes through the strike zone. A check swing is when the batter begins to swing, but then stops the swing short. If the batter successfully checks the swing and the pitch is out of the strike zone, it is called a ball.

There are two legal pitching positions, the windup and the set position or stretch. Either position may be used at any time; typically, the windup is used when the bases are empty, while the set position is used when at least one runner is on base. Each position has certain procedures that must be followed. A balk can be called on a pitcher from either position. A power pitcher is one who relies on the velocity of his pitches to succeed.[1] Generally, power pitchers record a high percentage of strikeouts. A control pitcher succeeds by throwing accurate pitches and thus records few walks.

Baseball P
The position of the pitcher

Nearly all action during a game is centered on the pitcher for the defensive team. A pitcher's particular style, time taken between pitches, and skill heavily influence the dynamics of the game and can often determine the victor. Starting with the pivot foot on the pitcher's rubber at the center of the pitcher's mound, which is 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) from home plate, the pitcher throws the baseball to the catcher, who is positioned behind home plate and catches the ball. Meanwhile, a batter stands in the batter's box at one side of the plate, and attempts to bat the ball safely into fair play.

The type and sequence of pitches chosen depend upon the particular situation in a game. Because pitchers and catchers must coordinate each pitch, a system of hand signals is used by the catcher to communicate choices to the pitcher, who either vetoes or accepts by shaking his head or nodding. The relationship between pitcher and catcher is so important that some teams select the starting catcher for a particular game based on the starting pitcher. Together, the pitcher and catcher are known as the battery.

Although the object and mechanics of pitching remain the same, pitchers may be classified according to their roles and effectiveness. The starting pitcher begins the game, and he may be followed by various relief pitchers, such as the long reliever, the left-handed specialist, the middle reliever, the setup man, and/or the closer.

In Major League Baseball, every team uses Baseball Rubbing Mud to rub game balls in before their pitchers use them in games.[2]

Pitching in a game

Baseball pitch release
A Navy pitcher releases the baseball from the pitcher's mound
Baseball pitch delivery
Delivery of the baseball from the pitcher to catcher

A skilled pitcher often throws a variety of different pitches to prevent the batter from hitting the ball well. The most basic pitch is a fastball, where the pitcher throws the ball as hard as he can. Some pitchers are able to throw a fastball at a speed over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h; 150 ft/s), ex., Aroldis Chapman. Other common types of pitches are the curveball, slider, changeup, cutter, sinker, screwball, forkball, split-fingered fastball, slurve, and knuckleball.[3] These generally are intended to have unusual movement or to deceive the batter as to the rotation or velocity of the ball, making it more difficult to hit. Very few pitchers throw all of these pitches, but most use a subset or blend of the basic types. Some pitchers also release pitches from different arm angles, making it harder for the batter to pick up the flight of the ball. (See List of baseball pitches.) A pitcher who is throwing well on a particular day is said to have brought his "good stuff."

There are a number of distinct throwing styles used by pitchers. The most common style is a three-quarters delivery in which the pitcher's arm snaps downward with the release of the ball. Some pitchers use a sidearm delivery in which the arm arcs laterally to the torso. Some pitchers use a submarine style in which the pitcher's body tilts sharply downward on delivery, creating an exaggerated sidearm motion in which the pitcher's knuckles come very close to the mound.

Effective pitching is vitally important in baseball. In baseball statistics, for each game, one pitcher will be credited with winning the game, and one pitcher will be charged with losing it. This is not necessarily the starting pitchers for each team, however, as a reliever can get a win and the starter would then get a no-decision.

Rotation and specialization

Pitching is physically demanding, especially if the pitcher is throwing with maximum effort. A full game usually involves 120–170 pitches thrown by each team, and most pitchers begin to tire before they reach this point. As a result, the pitcher who starts a game often will not be the one who finishes it, and he may not be recovered enough to pitch again for a few days. The act of throwing a baseball at high speed is very unnatural to the body and somewhat damaging to human muscles; thus pitchers are very susceptible to injuries, soreness, and general pain.

20070616 Chris Young visits Wrigley (4)-edit3
Chris Young throws a four-seam fastball in the bullpen pregame.

Teams have devised two strategies to address this problem: rotation and specialization. To accommodate playing nearly every day, a team will include a group of pitchers who start games and rotate between them, allowing each pitcher to rest for a few days between starts. A team's roster of starting pitchers are usually not even in terms of skill. Exceptional pitchers are highly sought after and in the professional ranks draw large salaries, thus teams can seldom stock each slot in the rotation with top-quality pitchers.

The best starter in the team's rotation is called the ace. He is usually followed in the rotation by 3 or 4 other starters before he would be due to pitch again. Barring injury or exceptional circumstances, the ace is usually the pitcher that starts on Opening Day. Aces are also preferred to start crucial games late in the season and in the playoffs; sometimes they are asked to pitch on shorter rest if the team feels he would be more effective than the 4th or 5th starter. Typically, the further down in the rotation a starting pitcher is, the weaker he is compared with the others on the staff. The "5th starter" is seen as the cut-off between the starting staff and the bullpen. A team may have a designated 5th starter, sometimes known as a spot starter or that role may shift cycle to cycle between members of the bullpen or Triple-A starters. Differences in rotation setup could also have tactical considerations as well, such as alternating right- or left-handed pitchers, in order to throw off the other team's hitting game-to-game in a series.

Teams have additional pitchers reserved to replace that game's starting pitcher if he tires or proves ineffective. These players are called relief pitchers, relievers, or collectively the bullpen. Once a starter begins to tire or is starting to give up hits and runs a call is made to the bullpen to have a reliever start to warm up. This involves the reliever starting to throw practice balls to a coach in the bullpen so as to be ready to come in and pitch whenever the manager wishes to pull the current pitcher. Having a reliever warm up does not always mean he will be used; the current pitcher may regain his composure and retire the side, or the manager may choose to go with another reliever if strategy dictates. Commonly, pitching changes will occur as a result of a pinch hitter being used in the late innings of a game, especially if the pitcher is in the batting lineup due to not having the designated hitter. A reliever would then come out of the bullpen to pitch the next inning.

When making a pitching change a manager will come out to the mound. He will then call in a pitcher by the tap of the arm which the next pitcher throws with. The manager or pitching coach may also come out to discuss strategy with the pitcher, but on his second trip to the mound with the same pitcher in the same inning, the pitcher has to come out. The relief pitchers often have even more specialized roles, and the particular reliever used depends on the situation. Many teams designate one pitcher as the closer, a relief pitcher specifically reserved to pitch the final inning or innings of a game when his team has a narrow lead, in order to preserve the victory. Other relief roles include set-up men, middle relievers, left-handed specialists, and long relievers. Generally, relievers pitch fewer innings and throw fewer pitches than starters, but they can usually pitch more frequently without the need for several days of rest between appearances. Relief pitchers are typically guys with "special stuff". Meaning that they have really effective pitches or a very different style of delivery. This makes the batter see a very different way of pitching in attempt to get them out. One example is a sidearm or submarine pitcher.

Baseball pitcher by thrashbandicoot01 dd8zz5g
A pitcher for the DeLand Suns prepares to throw a pitch against the Lakeland Lightning. June 8, 2019.

Position players are eligible to pitch in a game as well, this however is rare as these players are not truly trained as pitchers and risk injury. (For instance, in a 1993 game, Jose Canseco suffered a season ending arm injury after pitching 2 innings.) Plus, they tend to throw with less velocity. For these reasons, managers will typically only use a position player as a pitcher in a blowout loss, or if they have run out of available pitchers in order to avoid a forfeit (the latter typically only happens in extra-inning games). Cliff Pennington of the Toronto Blue Jays, who pitched 1/3 of an inning in game 4 of the 2015 American League Championship Series en route to a 14-2 loss, was the only documented position player to pitch during the postseason, until Austin Romine of the New York Yankees pitched the ninth inning of Game 3 in a 16-1 loss against the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 American League Division Series. The only regulation game in which both pitchers of record were position players occurred on May 6, 2012, when the Baltimore Orioles' designated hitter Chris Davis was the winner in a 16-inning game against Boston while Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald took the loss.

After the ball is pitched

The pitcher's duty does not cease after he pitches the ball. Unlike the other fielders, a pitcher and catcher must start every play in a designated area. The pitcher must be on the pitcher's mound, with one foot in contact with the pitcher's rubber, and the catcher must be behind home plate in the catcher's box. Once the ball is in play, however, the pitcher and catcher, like the other fielders, can respond to any part of the field necessary to make or assist in a defensive play.[4] At that point, the pitcher has several standard roles. The pitcher must attempt to field any balls coming up the middle, and in fact a Gold Glove Award is reserved for the pitcher with the best fielding ability. He must head over to first base, to be available to cover it, on balls hit to the right side, since the first baseman might be fielding them too far to the baseman's right to reach first base before the batter-runner can. Except for the first baseman, the pitcher ordinarily has the shortest run to first base of anyone other than the first baseman, and is the second-most-likely person to make a putout at first base by retrieving a fielded ball thrown by an infielder (typically a first baseman). On passed balls and wild pitches, he covers home-plate when there are runners on. Also, he generally backs up throws to home plate. When there is a throw from the outfield to third base, he has to back up the play to third base as well.

Pitching biomechanics

The physical act of overhand pitching is complex and unnatural to the human anatomy. Most major league pitchers throw at speeds between 70 and 100 mph, with fastballs, the most common pitch, generally ranging from 86-102mph, putting high amounts of stress on the pitching arm. Pitchers are by far the most frequently injured players and many professional pitchers will have multiple surgeries to repair damage in the elbow and shoulder by the end of their careers.

As such, the biomechanics of pitching are closely studied and taught by coaches at all levels and are an important field in sports medicine. Glenn Fleisig, a biomechanist who specializes in the analysis of baseball movements, says that pitching is "the most violent human motion ever measured."[5] He claims that the pelvis can rotate at 515–667°/sec, the trunk can rotate at 1,068–1,224°/s, the elbow can reach a maximal angular velocity of 2,200–2,700°/s and the force pulling the pitcher's throwing arm away from the shoulder at ball release is approximately 280 pounds-force (1,200 N).[5]

The overhead throwing motion can be divided into phases which include windup, early cocking, late cocking, early acceleration, late acceleration, deceleration, and follow-through.[6] Training for pitchers often includes targeting one or several of these phases. Biomechanical evaluations are sometimes done on individual pitchers to help determine points of inefficiency.[7] Mechanical measurements that are assessed include, but are not limited to, foot position at stride foot contact (SFC), elbow flexion during arm cocking and acceleration phases, maximal external rotation during arm cocking, horizontal abduction at SFC, arm abduction, lead knee position during arm cocking, trunk tilt, peak angular velocity of throwing arm and angle of wrist.[8][9][10]

Some players begin intense mechanical training at a young age, a practice that has been criticized by many coaches and doctors, with some citing an increase in Tommy John surgeries in recent years.[11] Fleisig lists nine recommendations for preventative care of children's arms.[12] 1) Watch and respond to signs of fatigue. 2) Youth pitchers should not pitch competitively in more than 8 months in any 12-month period. 3) Follow limits for pitch counts and days of rest. 4) Youth pitchers should avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons. 5) Youth pitchers should learn good throwing mechanics as soon as possible: basic throwing, fastball pitching and change-up pitching. 6) Avoid using radar guns. 7) A pitcher should not also be a catcher for his/her team. The pitcher catcher combination results in many throws and may increase the risk of injury. 8) If a pitcher complains of pain in his/her elbow, get an evaluation from a sports medicine physician. 9) Inspire youth to have fun playing baseball and other sports. Participation and enjoyment of various activities will increase the youth's athleticism and interest in sports.[12]

To counteract shoulder and elbow injury, coaches and trainers have begun utilizing "jobe" exercises, named for Dr. Frank Jobe, the pioneer of the Tommy John procedure.[13] Jobes are exercises that have been developed to isolate, strengthen and stabilize the rotator cuff muscles. Jobes can be done using either resistance bands or lightweight dumbbells. Common jobe exercises include shoulder external rotation, shoulder flexion, horizontal abduction, prone abduction and scaption (at 45°, 90° and inverse 45°).

In addition to the Jobes exercises, many pitching coaches are creating lifting routines that are specialized for pitchers. Pitchers should avoid exercises that deal with a barbell. The emphasis on the workout should be on the legs and the core. Other body parts should be worked on but using lighter weights. Over lifting muscles, especially while throwing usually ends up in a strain muscle or possible a tear.

Equipment

Other than the catcher, pitchers and other fielders wear very few pieces of equipment. In general the ball cap, baseball glove and cleats are equipment used. Pitchers may also keep with them at the mound a bag of powdered rosin. Handling the bag applies a small layer of the rosin to the pitcher’s fingers in order to increase his grip on the ball.

Currently there is a new trend of introducing a pitcher helmet to provide head protection from batters hitting line drives back to the pitcher. As of January 2014, MLB approved a protective pitchers cap which can be worn by any pitcher if they choose.[14] San Diego Padres relief pitcher, Alex Torres was the first player in MLB to wear the protective cap.[15]

One style of helmet is worn on top of the ballcap to provide protection to the forehead and sides.[16]

In softball, a full face helmet is available to all players including pitchers.[17] These fielder's masks are becoming increasingly popular in younger fast pitch leagues, some leagues even requiring them.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Velocity". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Schneider, Jason (July 4, 2006). "All-American mud needed to take shine off baseballs". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  3. ^ "Pitch Types". mlb.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  4. ^ Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived August 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Dean, J. (October 2010). "Perfect Pitch". WIRED. 18 (10): 62.
  6. ^ Benjamin, Holly J.; Briner, William W., Jr. (2005), "Little League Elbow", Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 15 (1): 37–40, doi:10.1097/00042752-200501000-00008
  7. ^ "Pitching Biomechanical Evaluation". Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2008.
  8. ^ Whiteley, R. (2007). "Baseball throwing mechanics as they relate to pathology and performance – A review". Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 6 (1): 1–20.
  9. ^ Barrentine, S. W.; Matsuo, T.; Escamilla, R. F.; Fleisig, G. S.; Andrews, J. R. (1998). "Kinematic Analysis of the Wrist and Forearm during Baseball Pitching". Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 14 (1): 24–39. doi:10.1123/jab.14.1.24.
  10. ^ Matsuo, T., Matsumoto, T., & Takada, Y. (1999). Influence of different shoulder abduction angles during baseball pitching on throwing performance and joint kinetics. p.389-392.. (). Australia:
  11. ^ Rick Peterson (February 6, 2009). "Pitching Perspectives with Rick Peterson: Understanding the Epidemic of Youth Pitching Injuries". fullcountpitch.com.
  12. ^ a b Fleisig, G. S.; Weber, A.; Hassell, N.; Andrews, J. R. (2009). "Prevention of elbow injuries in youth baseball pitchers". Current Sports Medicine Reports. 8 (5): 250–254. doi:10.1249/jsr.0b013e3181b7ee5f. PMC 3435945. PMID 23016115.
  13. ^ Jeran, J. J.; Chetlin, R. D. (2005). "Training the shoulder complex in baseball pitchers: A sport-specific approach". Strength & Conditioning Journal. Allen Press. 27 (4): 14–31. doi:10.1519/1533-4295(2005)27[14:ttscib]2.0.co;2.
  14. ^ "Pitchers' protective caps approved". ESPN.com. January 28, 2014.
  15. ^ "Who was the first pitcher to wear protective headgear". July 1, 2014. Archived from the original on March 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "New Pitching Helmet Prototype Unveiled by Easton-Bell Sports". Reuters. March 7, 2011. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Softball Helmet: Selection and prices for the popular models". Fastpitch-softball-coaching.com. March 21, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.

Further reading

2012 Major League Baseball draft

The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was held from June 4 through June 6, 2012, from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. The Houston Astros, with the first overall pick, selected Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School.

2013 Major League Baseball draft

The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft was held from June 6 through June 8, 2013. The first two rounds were broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Each team received one selection per round, going in reverse order of the 2012 MLB season final standings. In addition, teams could receive compensation draft picks if they had made a qualifying offer to a free agent player from their team, and the player rejected the offer and signed with another team.

2014 Major League Baseball draft

The 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 5 through June 7, 2014, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first two rounds were conducted on June 5, followed by rounds three through ten on June 6, and the last 30 rounds on June 7. It was broadcast from Studio 42 of the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

The draft order was the reverse order of the 2013 MLB regular season standings. As the Astros finished the 2013 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection for the third consecutive year. In addition, the Toronto Blue Jays got the 11th pick, as compensation for failing to sign Phil Bickford, the 10th overall selection of the 2013 MLB Draft. The St. Louis Cardinals got bumped from #30 to #31 because although tied with the Boston Red Sox for most wins in the 2013 regular season, the Red Sox had fewer wins in 2012.

Kansas City Royals first round draft pick Brandon Finnegan made his Major League debut on September 6, 2014, the first player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class, with Carlos Rodon the second. Rodon first appeared for the Chicago White Sox on April 21, 2015. Finnegan became the first player to play in both the College World Series, for TCU, and the MLB World Series, for Kansas City, in the same year. Kyle Schwarber was the first position player to reach the majors from the 2014 draft class doing so June 16, 2015.

2015 Major League Baseball draft

The 2015 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft was held from June 8 through June 10, 2015, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The draft order is the reverse order of the 2014 MLB season standings. As the Diamondbacks finished the 2014 season with the worst record, they had the first overall selection. In addition, the Houston Astros had the 2nd pick of the 2015 draft, as compensation for failing to sign Brady Aiken, the first overall selection of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Twelve free agents received and rejected qualifying offers of $15.3 million for the 2015 season, entitling their teams to compensatory draft choices if they are signed by another team. The team signing the player will lose their first round choice, though the first ten picks are protected. The New York Mets surrendered their first round pick (15th overall) to sign Michael Cuddyer, while the Colorado Rockies gained a supplementary pick. The Toronto Blue Jays lost their pick for signing Russell Martin, giving a compensatory pick to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Boston Red Sox surrendered their second- and third-round picks (Boston's first pick is protected) to sign Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramírez. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers received supplementary picks.Dean Kremer became the first ever Israeli drafted in an MLB draft, when selected in the 39th round, by the Padres.

2016 Major League Baseball draft

The 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 9, 2016, to assign amateur baseball players to MLB teams.

The draft order is the reverse order of the 2015 MLB season standings. In addition, compensation picks will be distributed for players who did not sign from the 2015 MLB Draft. The Philadelphia Phillies received the first overall selection. The Los Angeles Dodgers received the 36th pick as compensation for failing to sign Kyle Funkhouser, the 35th overall selection of the 2015 MLB Draft.Teams from the smallest markets and revenue pools are eligible for competitive balance draft picks. The first six picks, Round A, were determined by lottery between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals. The six preceding teams that do not receive a pick in Round A were entered into a second lottery, with the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Seattle Mariners, to receive the six picks in Round B. The twelve competitive balance draft picks are the only picks allowed to be traded. The Reds received the first pick in Round A, followed by the Athletics, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Pirates. The Padres received the first pick of Round B, followed by the Indians, Twins, Brewers, Orioles, and Rays.

CC Sabathia

Carsten Charles Sabathia Jr. (born July 21, 1980), commonly known as CC Sabathia, is an American professional baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers. Sabathia bats and throws left-handed.

Sabathia made his major league debut with the Indians in 2001 and placed second in the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year voting behind 2001 AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki. Sabathia played the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Indians, with whom he won the 2007 Cy Young Award. He led the Indians to the 2007 AL Central Division title and their first postseason berth since his rookie year. Following a trade, Sabathia played the second half of the 2008 MLB season with the Milwaukee Brewers, helping them make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.

In the 2008 offseason, Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million; at the time, this was the largest contract ever signed by a pitcher. With the Yankees, Sabathia led all of Major League Baseball in wins in both 2009 and 2010 and won a World Series ring in 2009. He was also voted the 2009 American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player. After mid-career struggles attributed to lost fastball velocity, chronic knee injuries, and alcoholism, Sabathia again found success in the late 2010s after reinventing himself as a control pitcher. In February 2019, he announced that 2019 would be his final season as a professional baseball player.

During his career, Sabathia has been named an All-Star six times and has won the Warren Spahn Award three times. In August 2017, Sabathia became the all-time American League leader in strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher. As of June 2019, he leads all active Major League players in career wins, career innings pitched and career strikeouts. On April 30, 2019, he became the seventeenth pitcher in MLB history to reach 3,000 strikeouts and the third left-hander to do so (joining Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton).

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Edward Kershaw (born March 19, 1988) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB). A left-handed starting pitcher, Kershaw has played in the major leagues since 2008, and his career earned run average (ERA) and walks and hits per innings pitched average (WHIP) are the lowest among starters in the live-ball era with a minimum of 1,000 innings pitched. Kershaw has a career hits allowed per nine innings pitched average of 6.61—the second-lowest in MLB history—along with three Cy Young Awards and the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player Award. He has been described throughout the majority of his career as the best pitcher in baseball.Kershaw was drafted seventh overall in the 2006 MLB draft. He worked his way through the Dodgers' farm system in just one full season, and reached the majors at 20 years old. When he debuted in 2008, he was the youngest player in MLB, a title he held for one full year. In 2011, he won the pitching Triple Crown and the National League Cy Young Award, becoming the youngest pitcher to accomplish either of these feats since Dwight Gooden in 1985.

During the 2013 off-season, the Dodgers signed Kershaw to a franchise record seven-year, $215 million contract extension. Kershaw pitched a no-hitter on June 18, 2014, becoming the 22nd Dodger to do so. Being a left-handed strikeout pitcher and playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kershaw has often been compared to Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. He became the first pitcher in history to lead MLB in ERA for four consecutive years when he did so in the 2011 through 2014 seasons.Off the field, Kershaw is an active participant in volunteer work. He and his wife, Ellen, launched "Kershaw's Challenge" and wrote the book Arise to raise money to build an orphanage in Zambia. He has been honored with the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his humanitarian work.

Complete game

In baseball, a complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A pitcher who meets this criterion will be credited with a complete game regardless of the number of innings played - pitchers who throw an entire official game that is shortened by rain will still be credited with a complete game, while starting pitchers who are relieved in extra innings after throwing nine or more innings will not be credited with a complete game. A starting pitcher who is replaced by a pinch hitter in the final half inning of a game will still be credited with a complete game.

The frequency of complete games has evolved since the early days of baseball. The complete game was essentially an expectation in the early 20th century and pitchers completed almost all of the games they started. In modern baseball, the feat is much more rare and no pitcher has reached 30 complete games in a season since 1975; in the 21st century, a pitcher has thrown 10 or more complete games in a season only twice.

Cy Young Award

The Cy Young Award is given annually to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB), one each for the American League (AL) and National League (NL). The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955. The award was originally given to the single best pitcher in the major leagues, but in 1967, after the retirement of Frick, the award was given to one pitcher in each league.Each league's award is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with one representative from each team. As of the 2010 season, each voter places a vote for first, second, third, fourth and fifth place among the pitchers of each league. The formula used to calculate the final scores is a weighted sum of the votes. The pitcher with the highest score in each league wins the award. If two pitchers receive the same number of votes, the award is shared. The current formula started in the 2010 season. Before that, dating back to 1970, writers voted for three pitchers, with the formula of 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for a second place vote and 1 for a third place vote. Prior to 1970, writers only voted for the best pitcher and used a formula of one point per vote.

Justin Verlander

Justin Brooks Verlander (born February 20, 1983) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Detroit Tigers for 13 seasons, with whom he made his major league debut on July 4, 2005. A right-handed batter and thrower, Verlander stands 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall and weighs 225 pounds (102 kg).

From Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, Verlander attended Old Dominion University (ODU) and played college baseball for the Monarchs. He broke the Monarchs' and Colonial Athletic Association's career records for strikeouts. At the 2003 Pan American Games, Verlander helped lead the United States national team to a silver medal. The Tigers selected him in the first round and as the second overall pick of the 2004 first-year player draft. As a former ace in the Tigers' starting rotation, he was a key figure in four consecutive American League (AL) Central division championships from 2011−2014, two AL Pennants in 2006 and 2012, and in the Astros' first World Series championship in 2017. He is among the career pitching leaders for the Tigers, including ranking second in strikeouts (2,373), seventh in wins (183), and eighth in innings pitched (2511).

The winner of a number of accolades, Verlander is an eight-time MLB All-Star, has led the AL in strikeouts five times and in wins twice. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and on June 12, 2007, pitched the first no-hitter at Comerica Park versus the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2009, he led the AL in wins and strikeouts, both for the first time. Verlander produced his most successful season in 2011, including his second career no-hitter versus the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7, 2011. By season's end, Verlander won the Pitching Triple Crown, the AL Cy Young Award unanimously, the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award.

On August 31, 2017, the Tigers traded Verlander to the Houston Astros just before the trade deadline, and he immediately became an impact for the team, going undefeated in his first five starts heading into the postseason. He helped lead the Astros to the 2017 World Series, which they won over the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving him his first career ring. For his performance in the 2017 American League Championship Series, he was named MVP, and was co-winner of the Babe Ruth Award (with teammate José Altuve) for most outstanding performance in the 2017 postseason. In the 2018 season, Verlander became the 114th pitcher in major league history to reach 200 career wins, also becoming the 20th fastest to reach the milestone (412 starts).

Madison Bumgarner

Madison Kyle Bumgarner (born August 1, 1989), commonly known by his nickname, "MadBum", is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). Bumgarner has won three World Series championships (2010, 2012, 2014) and two Silver Slugger Awards (2014, 2015). He has also been selected to four National League All-Star teams and has the most strikeouts in franchise history by a Giants left-handed pitcher.Bumgarner played high school baseball at South Caldwell High School in Hudson, North Carolina, where he helped his team win the 2007 4A State Championship. After graduating, he was selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. In 2008, his first year playing professionally, he won the South Atlantic League pitching triple crown. He and Buster Posey both made their Major League debuts in 2009, and have since established a reputation as one of the best batteries in recent MLB history, largely due to their prolific success early in their careers. Bumgarner pitched eight scoreless innings in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, helping win the franchise's first World Series in San Francisco and the first since 1954. Two years later, Bumgarner pitched seven more scoreless innings in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series. Bumgarner became the ace of a Giants pitching staff that won three World Series championships in a five-year span.

Following one of the most dominant postseason and World Series pitching performances in modern MLB history, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 World Series, the 2014 Babe Ruth Award winner, the 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and the 2014 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

No-hitter

In baseball, a no-hitter (also known as a no-hit game and colloquially as a no-no) is a game in which a team was not able to record a single hit. Major League Baseball (MLB) officially defines a no-hitter as a completed game in which a team that batted in at least nine innings recorded no hits. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter". This is a rare accomplishment for a pitcher or pitching staff: only 301 have been thrown in Major League Baseball history since 1876, an average of about two per year. In most cases in MLB, no-hitters are recorded by a single pitcher who throws a complete game; one thrown by two or more pitchers is a combined no-hitter. The most recent major league no-hitter by a single pitcher was thrown on May 7, 2019 by Mike Fiers of the Oakland Athletics against the Cincinnati Reds at the Oakland Coliseum; this was also the 300th no-hitter in MLB history. The most recent combined no-hitter was thrown on July 12, 2019 by Taylor Cole and Félix Peña of the Los Angeles Angels against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium.

It is possible to reach base without a hit, most commonly by a walk, error, or being hit by a pitch. (Other possibilities include the batter reaching first after an uncaught third strike or catcher's interference.) A no-hitter in which no batters reach base at all is a perfect game, a much rarer feat. Because batters can reach base by means other than a hit, a pitcher can throw a no-hitter (though not a perfect game) and still give up runs, and even lose the game, although this is extremely uncommon and most no-hitters are also shutouts. One or more runs were given up in 25 recorded no-hitters in MLB history, most recently by Ervin Santana of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a 3–1 win at the Cleveland Indians on July 27, 2011. On two occasions, a team has thrown a nine-inning no-hitter and still lost the game. On a further four occasions, a team has thrown a no-hitter for eight innings in a losing effort, but those four games are not officially recognized as no-hitters by Major League Baseball because the outing lasted fewer than nine innings. It is theoretically possible for opposing pitchers to throw no-hitters in the same game, although this has never happened in the majors. Two pitchers, Fred Toney and Hippo Vaughn, completed nine innings of a game on May 2, 1917 without either giving up a hit or a run; Vaughn gave up two hits and a run in the 10th inning, losing the game to Toney, who completed the extra-inning no-hitter.

Pitcher plant

Pitcher plants are several different carnivorous plants which have modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with digestive liquid. The traps of what are considered to be "true" pitcher plants are formed by specialized leaves. The plants attract and drown their prey with nectar.

Relief pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually rest several days before pitching in a game again due to the number of pitches thrown, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch more games but with fewer innings pitched. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

Shutouts in baseball

In Major League Baseball, a shutout (denoted statistically as ShO or SHO) refers to the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run. If two or more pitchers combine to complete this act, no pitcher is awarded a shutout, although the team itself can be said to have "shut out" the opposing team.

The ultimate single achievement among pitchers is a perfect game, which has been accomplished 23 times in over 135 years, most recently by Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners on August 15, 2012. By definition, a perfect game is counted as a shutout. A no-hitter completed by one pitcher is also a shutout unless the opposing team manages to score through a series of errors, base on balls, catcher's interferences, dropped third strikes, or hit batsmen. The all-time career leader in shutouts is Walter Johnson, who pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907–1927. He accumulated 110 shutouts, which is 20 more than the second place leader, Pete Alexander. The most shutouts recorded in one season was 16, which was a feat accomplished by both Pete Alexander (1916) and George Bradley (1876). These records are considered among the most secure records in baseball, because pitchers today rarely earn more than one or two shutouts per season with a heavy emphasis on pitch count and relief pitching. Complete games themselves have also become rare among starting pitchers.

The current leader among active players for career shutouts is Clayton Kershaw, who has thrown 15.

Starting pitcher

In baseball (hardball or softball), a starting pitcher or starter is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A pitcher is credited with a game started if they throw the first pitch to the opponent's first batter of a game. Starting pitchers are expected to pitch for a significant portion of the game, although their ability to do this depends on many factors, including effectiveness, stamina, health, and strategy.

A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three, four, or five days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four, five or six starting pitchers on their rosters. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, is known as the rotation. In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common.In contrast, a pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher. Ocassionally, an opening pitcher is used for only a few innings, and is replaced by a long reliever or a pitcher who would typically be a starting pitcher.

Tyler Skaggs

Tyler Wayne Skaggs (July 13, 1991 – July 1, 2019) was an American professional baseball starting pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels selected Skaggs in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft. After the Angels traded him to the Diamondbacks during the 2010 season, Skaggs made his MLB debut in 2012. The Diamondbacks traded him back to the Angels during the 2013–2014 off-season, and he pitched for the team until his death in 2019. Skaggs posted a career earned run average (ERA) of 4.41 and recorded 476 strikeouts and a win–loss record of 28 wins and 38 losses.

On July 1, 2019, Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, where the Angels were visiting to play the Texas Rangers. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

Win–loss record (pitching)

In baseball and softball, a pitcher's win–loss record (also referred to simply as their record) indicates the number of wins (denoted "W") and losses (denoted "L") they have been credited with. For example, a 20–10 win–loss record would represent 20 wins and 10 losses.

In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win (the "winning pitcher") and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss (the "losing pitcher") in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. The designation of win or loss for a pitcher is known as a decision, and only one pitcher for each team receives a decision. A starting pitcher who does not receive credit for a win or loss is said to have no decision. In certain situations, another pitcher on the winning team who pitched in relief of the winning pitcher can be credited with a save, and holds can be awarded to relief pitchers on both sides, but these are never awarded to the same pitcher who is awarded the win.

The decisions are awarded by the official scorer of the game in accordance with the league's rules. The official scorer does not assign a winning or losing pitcher in some games which are forfeited, such as those that are tied at the time of forfeiture. If the game is tied (a rare event), no pitcher is awarded any decision. A pitcher's winning percentage is calculated by dividing the number of wins by the number of decisions (wins plus losses), and it is commonly expressed with three decimal places.

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