The set (or “stretch”) position is used when a runner is on base. Note that “set position” is a term used not only for the overall pitching position, but also for one aspect of the motion associated with this pitching position – coming to a complete stop just before delivering the pitch.
A pitcher must have his pivot foot in contact with the rubber to be legally in the set position.
The set position allows for a quicker delivery and gives the pitcher more options to restrict base runners. In the set position:
- The pitcher stands with his pivot foot in contact with and parallel to the pitching rubber and his gloved side toward the batter.
- He must move from a position where his throwing hand is by his side or behind him to a position where his hands come together in front of his body. This movement is commonly referred to as the “stretch.”
Following his stretch, with runner(s) on base, the pitcher must hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and come to a complete stop before delivering the ball to the plate. This is commonly referred to as “coming set.” With no runners on base, the pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop.
While pitching from the set position with a runner on base, a pitcher must come to a complete stop before delivering a pitch to the plate.
Once in the set position, the pitcher has the following options:
- Deliver a pitch to the plate
- Step and throw to an occupied base or to a base a runner is trying to steal
- Turn and throw or fake a throw to second base, if occupied
- Disengage the rubber by stepping completely off the back side of the rubber with his pivot foot towards second base
Once in the set position, a pitcher has several options of what to do next.
Once the pitcher disengages from the rubber, he is considered an infielder. He may throw to any base but if his throw is wild and goes into dead ball territory, it shall be treated like a wild throw by any other infielder. The penalty for a wild throw into dead ball territory for a pitcher is one base awarded to the runners. A wild throw from an infielder awards the runners two bases.
The pitcher must have possession of the ball when he engages the pitching rubber. The pitcher may hold the ball in his throwing hand or inside the glove.
Once the pitcher is on the rubber, he may not hesitate in or interrupt any of the prescribed legal movements (unless legally doing so by stepping off the rubber or legally attempting a pickoff or fake), or it is a balk.