The Ole Ball Game

Does a pitcher's foot still have to be on the rubber when releasing the ball? If so, how can Carter Capps pitching be legal?

Normal pitching motion and release

Normal pitching motion and release

Anonymous asked: Capps (Miami Marlins) is clearly off of the rubber when he releases the ball.

Rick answered: Thank you for your question, an interesting one indeed!

Rule 8.01 Legal Pitching Delivery (a) Windup...The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher's plate and the other foot free.

From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration.

He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.

When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher's plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position.

The Marlins contacted MLB seeking clarification and MLB said they just wanted to make sure he dragged his foot and not get too elevated in the air.

I looked at the video of him pitching the other night. He appears to leap up and out, resets the pivot foot on the ground and delivers the pitch.

While it all appears to be continuous motion, that pivot foot sets down and the pitch is delivered from a considerable distance advantage.

As you look at the images above, most pitchers are releasing the baseball off their front foot, which ultimately pulls their pivot foot along and into their follow through.

The rule does not actually speak to the pivot foot actually disengaging the pitcher's plate, other than to make a throw to a base in a pickoff attempt, or to step back and reset.

It does say the delivery motion has to be without alteration. To me, when the pivot hits the ground and becomes a base from which to finish that pitch, the delivery motion has been altered.

I was not a pitcher. As a hitter, I would have trouble accepting that he is not receiving a greater advantage when allowed to jump out, set that foot down and throw.

Pitchers already have the advantage of the mound height; which over the years has been tampered with depending on whether MLB felt the game needed more scoring, or less scoring.

They say that a pitch thrown at 100 mph gives the hitter the "old hide and seek count of 1001" to make a decision on whether to swing or not.

This one looks to become a debate as the season moves forward. If pitcher's are successful with this action, hitters will be lobbying for a clarification of the rule.

If it works out that, even with the distance advantage, the jumping action negates a pitcher's accuracy, it will become a mute point.

Certainly, the rule as written needs better verbiage. Not sure MLB saw this one coming!

Yours in baseball,


Comments for Does a pitcher's foot still have to be on the rubber when releasing the ball? If so, how can Carter Capps pitching be legal?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 31, 2018
Does Verlander cheat? NEW
by: John B. Schneller

Watching Verlander pitch against the Yankees in Houston this year, I noticed I could see his heel and spikes on the rubber before his windup. I was a pretty good pitcher in my time so it got my attention. As he pivoted to deliver a pitch, it sure looked like he was ahead of the rubber about 2"-3" and not in contact with the rubber thru his pitching delivery and release of the ball, giving him an advantage, or is it cheating? I tried to pivot on the rubber starting with my heel on the rubber and I could not pivot and keep contact with the rubber. I think the Yankees should keep this in their back pocket, not unlike keeping quiet about the pine tar on George Brett's bat.

Jun 17, 2017
Unless it's very very quiet. . . .
by: Karen Kraft

Moot. Not mute.

Jun 05, 2017
Yes it does and it is one of the many ways pitchers "cheat"
by: West

You are correct about pitchers cheating by not staying on the rubber.

When I pitched "back in the day", I would regularly move around the rubber to throw the batters timing off.

If I wanted to give the appearance of a faster pitch I would step anywhere from 6 inches to even a foot if I felt the umpires were not paying attention. If I wanted to accentuate a changeup I would pitch from behind the rubber.

Another way that really worked well was pitching off the side. Though this one is more difficult as the home plate umpire can see this deception.

Pitchers are allowed to move around, but the push off foot must be in contact until the plant foot lands.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask The Baseball Coach.

Spalding, Old Time Bat Display

Louisville Sluggers. 1920's

Copyright© All Rights Reserved.
Copyright© All Rights Reserved.