When to throw a pitcher in a youth baseball game

If you have watched youth baseball games at the 7-12 year old level, you have probably witnessed the act of “throwing the pitcher” in the middle of the inning. In some cases, the result is that the thrown pitcher bursts into tears! Yes, these kids can be pretty tough on themselves. It can be argued that such events are only part of growing up and the young man who was attracted must learn to deal with them and move on. Still, there are steps that can be taken to minimize trauma to the youth pitcher who dives.

Take a good look at your pitchers

Make sure your pitchers can throw at least 3 out of 5 balls in the strike zone and preferably 3 out of 4 in the strike zone. If the pitcher is throwing hittable balls, one of two things will happen: the batter will strike out, or the batter will hit and place the result in the fielder’s hands (and provide the fielders with valuable practice). If the pitcher is only throwing 1 or 2 balls into the strike zone out of every 5 pitches, the result will be a large number of players walking and runs scored on stolen bases; this is not really the way the game should be played and it is very frustrating for the pitching team.

Also make sure your pitcher can pitch at a fast enough speed to avoid repeated hard hits for home runs. They don’t have to launch at lightning speed. However, if they are pitching the ball at “pitching speed,” batter after batter will hit balls for home runs and you may have no choice but to replace the pitcher.

Communicate with your pitchers

From the beginning, let your potential pitchers know what to expect. Let them know that if they repeatedly throw out of the strike zone as a result of a prolonged inning, they can be called out. Be patient though, I think a pitcher can learn a lot by “working through” his temporary difficulties. If you select your pitchers well, you won’t have to throw much of the pitchers, if at all.

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