How many times can MLB change pitchers?

Introduction to MLB Pitchers

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada. It is composed of 30 teams that play in the American and National Leagues. Each team has a pitching staff that is responsible for throwing the baseball to the other team’s batters. Pitchers play a major role in determining the success or failure of a team’s season.

Types of Pitchers

There are several different types of pitchers in the MLB. Starting pitchers are the mainstay of the pitching staff and are expected to pitch the majority of innings in a game. These pitchers usually have the most experience and are the best at controlling the game. Relief pitchers come into the game after the starter has been removed and are often used to help a team preserve a lead. Closers are relief pitchers that specialize in getting the last three outs of the game, usually in a save situation.

Pitching Restrictions

MLB has rules in place to regulate how many times a pitcher can be replaced during a game. A pitcher must face at least one batter, unless the opposing team makes a substitution or the pitcher is injured. If a pitcher is removed after facing one batter, the pitcher can return to the mound later in the game.

Pitching Limitations

MLB has also put in place pitching limitations that restrict how long a pitcher can stay in a game. Starting pitchers must be replaced after reaching a certain number of pitches. Relief pitchers have a limit of three innings per game. Closers must be replaced after one inning of work.

Number of Pitching Changes

The number of pitching changes that can be made in any one game is determined by the pitching limitations discussed above. A team can make as many pitching changes as needed so long as they adhere to the pitching restrictions and limitations. As a general rule, teams can make up to five pitching changes in a single game.

Strategy of Pitching Changes

Pitching changes in the MLB can be used strategically to gain an advantage on the field. Teams may use pitching changes to match up certain pitchers with certain batters, as well as to rest their pitchers. Additionally, teams can use pitching changes to exploit weaknesses in the opposing team’s lineup.

Injuries and Pitching Changes

Injuries are a common occurrence in the MLB, and teams must often make pitching changes in response to them. Pitchers may be removed due to an injury, such as a strained muscle or sore elbow. In these cases, a team may choose to replace the injured pitcher with a reliever or call up a new pitcher from the minor leagues.

Rules for Pitching Changes

MLB has a set of rules that govern how pitching changes are made. All pitching changes must be announced to the umpire and the opposing team before the change is made. The pitcher that is being replaced must leave the field before the new pitcher enters the game. Additionally, the new pitcher must face the batter who was at the plate when the change was made.

Frequency of Pitching Changes

The frequency of pitching changes in MLB games can vary depending on the situation. Pitchers may be changed more often in close games, as teams often try to exploit matchups against the opposing team’s batters. Additionally, teams may make more pitching changes when the bullpen has been overworked or when the starting pitcher is struggling.


Pitching changes are an important part of the MLB, as they can determine the outcome of a game. Teams can make as many as five pitching changes in a single game, so long as they adhere to the pitching restrictions and limitations that are in place. Teams also use pitching changes strategically, to gain an advantage over the opposing team.