Baseball Substitution Rules

We've already learned that a baseball game lasts nine or more innings and teams have nine fielders in the field. We also learned that baseball teams have both a 25-man roster and 40-man roster. it makes sense that these same nine players don't play the entire game. They are substituted out. A substitution is the act of replacing one or more players of a team on the field with players from the dugout located beyond the foul lines. Of course, these players have to be on the team roster.

The following are possible substitutions teams can make:

Teams can make unlimited substitutions throughout the course of a baseball game. Once a player is substituted for another player, the substitute takes the spot in the batting order of the removed player. In addition, the removed player cannot return to the game.

Players who are currently in the game are not allowed to be substituted for another player in the game.

Dead Balls

In baseball, teams are allowed to only make substitutions when the baseball is declared dead by umpires. The ball is declared dead by umpires for reasons like:

Pinch Runner

Pinch runners are substitute base runners, who replace runners who are on-base. Once a pinch runner is used, the player they replace must be taken out of the game.

Pinch Hitter

Pinch hitters are substitute batters, who replace batters who are already on the lineup. Once a pinch hitter is used, the player they replace must be taken out of the game.

Pitching Changes

When a pitcher is substituted, the team's manager will notify the umpire-in-chief of the replacement and the substitute for the pitcher in the batting order. If the pitcher was substituted during the middle of the inning, he gets a few warm up pitches and then he must resume play where the previous pitcher left off. Pitchers can only be substituted to a different position once per inning.

Fielder Changes

On an injury substitution, fielders are given five warm up throws before play commences.


A rotation is a type of strategy used by managers to maximize pitcher performance. It is a defined schedule that field managers make to determine how much playing time a pitcher should get before they are substituted. It is based on how many pitches are thrown and how the depth chart.

Double Switches

When making a substitution, the manager should inform the umpire in chief of the new batting order. Two players can be substituted at the same time, but the umpire should be informed of both. If the manager fails to tell the umpire, then he will make the decision of where to put the substitutes in the batting order.

An official substitution is made when the manager signals or motions to the bullpen.


If a manager is found to have substituted a player that has previously been removed from the game, that manager will be ejected.