- Starting pitcher
baseballor softball, a starting pitcher, often abbreviated as starter, is the pitcherwho pitches the first pitch to the first batter of a game. A pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher.
A manager of a baseball team would like the starting pitcher to pitch as many innings as possible in a game. Most regular starting pitchers pitch for at least five innings on a regular basis, and if they are unable to do so, there is a high probability they will be moved to the
bullpen. In modern baseball, starting pitchers are rarely expected to pitch for more than 7 or 8 innings, when games are passed to set-up pitchers and closers. Often, starting pitchers are on a pitch count, meaning the manager will seek to remove them from the game once they have thrown a specific number of pitches. The most common pitch count for modern pitchers is 100. Pitch counts are especially common for starting pitchers who are recovering from injury. In the early decades of baseball, it was not uncommon for a starting pitcher to accumulate an incredible number of innings—often 300 or more. In addition, there are accounts of starting pitchers pitching on consecutive days, or even in both games of a doubleheader. It is speculated that these feats were possible because pitchers in the early years of the 20th century, unlike modern starters, rarely threw the ball with maximum effort.
A starting pitcher must complete five innings of work in order to qualify for a win in a game he starts. Under
NCAAbaseball rules, a starting pitcher that pitches less than five innings can still earn a win if they pitch for a certain amount of time that is determined before the start of the game. It is possible to be credited with a loss despite pitching fewer than five innings. A starter who works six or more innings while giving up three or fewer runs is said to have achieved a quality start.
A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three or four days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four or five starting pitchers on their roster. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, is known as the rotation. In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common. [For an evaluation of the relative merits of a 4-man and a 5-man rotation, see
Rany Jazayerli, "Doctoring The Numbers: The Five-Man Rotation, Part 3," BaseballProspectus.com (August 30, 2002). [http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1622] ]
Starting pitchers usually have at least three good pitches—a
fastball; a breaking pitchsuch as a curveball, screwball, or slider; and a changeup.
Well-known starting pitchers that are in the
Baseball Hall of Fameinclude Cy Young, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Christy Mathewson, Phil Niekro, and Nolan Ryan.
Well-known starting pitchers that are currently active in
MLBinclude veterans Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavineand Pedro Martínez, and such rising stars as Johan Santana, Scott Kazmir, John Maine, John Lackey, Chris Carpenter, Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy, CC Sabathia, Dontrelle Willis, Cole Hamels, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Chien-Ming Wang, Barry Zito, Roy Halladay, Aaron Harang, Carlos Zambrano, Fausto Carmona, Ben Sheets, Kip Wells, Andrew Miller, Joe Blanton, Mark Buehrle, Rich Harden, Roy Oswalt, and Félix Hernández.
List of World Series starting pitchers
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