, a "pitchout" is when the pitcher
deliberately throws a ball
outside of the strike zone
in order to make it easier for the catcher
to try to throw out a runner
. The pitcher thus sacrifices a potential strike
in exchange for a chance at an out
Using a prearranged hand signal, the catcher calls for a pitchout in situations when it seems highly probable that a runner will try to steal a base or that there will be a hit and run play on. At the last second, just as the pitcher is about to throw, the catcher stands up and gets into a throwing position. The pitcher then throws a fastball up and away from the batter. If the runner goes, the catcher will be able to deliver the ball to the appropriate base much more quickly compared with an ordinary pitch.
It is estimated that a catcher has to throw the ball to second base in less than 1.5 seconds to nail a decent baserunner with a good jump. Even the best-throwing catchers in baseball can only deliver the ball in about 1.3 seconds when they have to come out of a crouch, so a pitchout at a wisely chosen moment can make a crucial difference between an out and a man in scoring position. A major league catcher will throw out about 90 percent of runners with the aid of a pitchout, as compared to only 25 percent or so on a normal pitch.