Two unrelated sports questions

  1. In baseball, what is “pitching out of the stretch”? It seems to have something to do with having a runner on first, but I could be completely wrong about that.

  2. In golf, what does it mean when the commentator says, “That putt’s got good lag on it,” or “He’s a fantastic lag putter”? It would seem that “lag” has to do with pacing the putt properly, but these comments make it seem as if it were a special type of putt.

Thank you in advance for any clarification.

  1. “Stretch” pitching is done with the right foot on the rubber and the pitcher’s body roughly facing 3rd base (left/1st for a southpaw). The stretch is a faster pitching motion than the windup, and allows you to make pickoff moves to the bases to catch runners trying to take big leads or steal.
    A pitcher will usually pitch out of the stretch with runners on base (except when the bases are loaded, because the runners probably aren’t going to all steal at once), and the windup otherwise.
    Some relief pitchers, especially in College and Minor Leagues, are not comfortable in the windup and pitch from the stretch exclusively.

  2. A lag putt is used when the player has a long distance putt to make. Rather than try to sink the putt, and risk hitting it poorly or reading a bad break and leaving another tough, mid-range putt to try, the player will try to putt to leave the ball within 3 feet of the hole, with a good line (uphill or flat), to make a 2-putt a sure thing.

To clarify the answer about pitching from the “stretch” position and why it is used with runners on base:

In order to try to pick the runner off at first base, the pitcher must a) step off of the pitching rubber and b) step in the direction of the base he’s going to throw to. Here, from MLB rule 8.01 regarding the Windup position:

You can legally pitch from the windup position with runners on base, in other words. The windup is slower, and as aktep points out, you don’t want to be slow in delivering the ball to the plate. Once the pitcher has committed to his pitch – even when he first picks up his free foot – the runner is off to the races.

The stretch allows the pitcher to come to the Set position (where he stands facing the runner) and it permits a faster delivery. Every tenth of a second counts in getting that pitch to the catcher; when the ball is in flight the defense is temporarily not in complete control of the ball.