1.Purpose of the warm-up routine for relief pitchers:
- To get the arm loose as quickly as possible
Our warm-up routine has the pitcher stretching in the middle innings of the game, throwing with a crow-hop at 70-feet for a few minutes, throwing 12 pitches from the stretch at 50-feet and 18 pitches from the stretch at 60 feet, 6 inches.
Stretch in the fifth inning first
Stretching in the fifth inning may be the most important aspect of pitching successfully on the mound when called upon in relief.
At some point in the fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-innings, jog a few lengths back-and-forth between the dugout and the outfield fence, and stretch off to the side. Make sure you work up a little sweat. This way, if you are called upon to pitch under “immediate circumstances,” you will already be loose and can focus specifically on warming-up the arm as quickly as possible.
Note: All Major League relief pitchers warm-up at some point between the fifth and seventh innings whether they think they may pitch or not—because if they are called upon, they are ready. If they aren’t called upon to pitch, they have, at the very least, benefited from remaining flexible and the stretch will help their performance the next day, or whenever they are called upon to pitch again.
Throw for two minutes at 70-feet
To begin throwing, the pitcher will want to move his catcher a few feet behind home plate as he moves a few feet behind the pitcher’s mound. From here, the pitcher should rapidly “catch-and-throw” the baseball as quickly (and controlled) as possible. Crow-hop on each throw to alleviate any unnecessary stress on the throwing shoulder.
Twelve pitches at 50 feet
Once you have thrown for two minutes at 70-feet, take the mound and get your catcher into his squatting position 10-feet in front of home plate. From here, proceed to throw three 4-seam fastballs to the outside part of the plate, followed by three 2-seam fastballs to the inside part of the plate. Remember to “catch-and-throw” as quickly as possible.
Next, immediately throw three change-ups for strikes followed by three curveballs for strikes while working on proper “spins” for both pitches.
Sixteen pitches at 60 feet, 6 inches
After the 12 warm-up pitches at 50-feet, move your catcher back to normal pitching distance (60 feet, 6 inches).
Throw four 4-seam fastballs to the outside part of the plate followed by four 2-seam fastballs to the inside of the plate. Again, this needs to be done rapidly, but in a controlled manner—“catch-and-throw.”
Then throw four change-ups and four curveballs while working on burying your pitches in the lower part of the strike zone.
Finish with two 4-seam fastballs.
Wait and watch
At this point, you have thrown for two minutes at 70 feet, 12 pitches at 50-feet, and 18 pitches at 60 feet, 6 inches—you’re ready. Remember, you get eight more pitches on the game mound.
If at this stage in your warm-up process your coach has not called you into the game, match one pitch for every pitch that is thrown by the pitcher you may be replacing on the game mound. In other words, if he throws a fastball, throw a fastball and wait until he throws another pitch. When he does throw another pitch, throw the same pitch in the bullpen and wait.
If you feel like you are good and loose, throw one pitch for every two pitches the game pitcher throws (or go 3:1).
The Complete Pitcher’s™ Warm-up for Relief Pitchers
4-seam fastball grip 2 minutes (70 feet)
4-seam FB 3 (50 feet)
2-seam FB 3 (50 feet)
Change-up 3 (50 feet)
Curveball 3 (50 feet)
4-seam FB 4 (60.5 feet)
2-seam FB 4 (60.5 feet)
Change-up 4 (60.5 feet)
Curveball 4 (60.5 feet)
4-seam FB 2 (60.5 feet)
Total pitches: 30
Remember, a pitcher still has eight warm-up pitches on the game-mound.
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