If you have watched youth baseball games at the 7-12 year old level, you have probably witnessed the act of “pulling the pitcher” in the middle of the inning. In some cases, the result is the pulled pitcher bursting into tears! Yes, these kids can be pretty hard on themselves. One may argue that such events are just a part of growing up and the youth that was pulled must learn to deal with it and move on. Still, there are measures that may be taken to minimize the trauma on the youth pitcher that is pulled.
Screen Your Pitchers Well
Make sure your pitchers can pitch at least 3 out of 5 balls in the strike zone and preferably 3 out of 4 in the strike zone. If the pitcher is pitching hit-able balls, one of two things will happen: The batter will strike out, or the batter will make a hit and place the outcome in the fielder’s hands (and provide the fielders some valuable practice). If the pitcher is only throwing 1 or 2 balls in the strike zone out of every 5 pitches, the result will be a lot of walked players and runs scored on stolen bases – this really is not how the game should be played and is very frustrating for the pitching team.
Also make sure your pitcher can throw at a speed fast enough to prevent repeated heavy hits for home runs. They do not have to pitch lightning fast. If they are lobbing the ball at a “toss-speed” however, batter after batter will be hitting balls for home runs and you may have no choice but to replace the pitcher.
Communicate With Your Pitchers
From the start, let your prospective pitchers know what is expected. Let them know that if they pitch out of the strike zone repeatedly with the result of an extended inning, they may be pulled. Be patient however – I think a lot can be learned by a pitcher “working through” his temporary difficulties. If you screen your pitchers well, you won’t have to pull pitchers much, if at all.