Relief pitcher Carter Capps of the Miami Marlins has the most unique/goofy delivery in baseball, but MLB says it’s legal, more or less.
Instead of merely pushing off the rubber with his back foot, he sort of jumps off of it and releases the pitch further down the mound:
According to MLB.com, the delivery is fine as long as Capps moves laterally and drags his back foot rather than jumping straight up. In a minor league game earlier this year an umpire ruled Capps’ delivery illegal and called two-straight automatic balls. Later, Capps got a clarification from the league:
“They just said they wanted me to make sure I dragged my foot and not get too elevated in the air, and make sure it’s more on a lateral plane. As long as I do that, they have no problem with it. But it was very strange.”
This seems to meet the definition of “illegal pitch” in the MLB rulebook which reads, “An ILLEGAL PITCH is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a quick return pitch. An illegal pitch when runners are on base is a balk.”
The problem is everyone violates the first part of this rule. Every pitcher’s foot comes off the rubber before actually releasing the ball, so it’s a rule that is pretty much just ignored. But players normally don’t stretch it as far as Capps is. What MLB wants is his back foot to be more a part of the natural motion of moving forward.
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