The pitcher in baseball is a member of the defensive team. He stands on the pitcher's mound and throws the ball to the catcher, who is squatting behind home plate. Baseball teams have lots of pitchers that vary in skills and brought into the game at different parts of the game. Teams usually many pitchers that are classified as starters and relievers.
The pitcher delivers special throws called pitches. Pitches are not like regular throws, they greatly differ from how fielders throw to each other. Pitches require an extremely specialized technique that involves the entire body and requires strength, balance, stamina, and strategy. Each pitcher has their own strengths and weaknesses and may fulfill a specific role for the team. The act of throwing the ball in this specific manner is called pitching, and the throws themselves are called pitches. The batter attempts to hit these pitches in order to reach base.
The pitcher stands on the pitcher's mound, a hill of dirt located at the center of the diamond. On the pitcher's mound is a base called the rubber, that the pitcher stands on when delivering pitches.
Therefore, it is the pitcher's job to throw strategic pitches that will either result in strikes or the batter making an out. To accomplish this, pitches can have different speeds and movements that make them tricky to hit, and there is a certain method to throw these specialized kinds of pitches. You can learn more about different kinds of pitches in Baseball Pitch Types.
The pitcher can also act as a fielder if the ball is in play within his general area like in no man's land. On some plays, he will cover 1st base if the first baseman must leave the base to field a baseball. We will learn more about the 1st baseman later in this chapter.
The pitcher is important because he is the defensive team's first line of defense in preventing batters from reaching base. The more batters the pitcher gets out at home plate, the less base runners there are, which means the opposing team has less of an opportunity to score.
Because pitching is such a difficult and specialized craft, it requires a significant amount of time and energy to become great at it -- leaving very little room to practice other skills such as hitting. Therefore, pitchers are often poor hitters; this is so common that pitchers in the American League of the MLB are not required to hit and a designated hitter will take their place in the batting order.