What is a Bullpen in Baseball? Read This First! - Baseball Scouter (2023)

We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What Is The Bullpen In Baseball

Pitchers make up half of any baseball team, yet there is only ever one pitcher in the game at a time. That stands in stark contrast to position players, of whom there are nine in the lineup at any time. So what about all the other pitchers? Well, you can find them in the bullpen.

The term “bullpen” actually refers to three different things in baseball. First and foremost, it refers to the area in a baseball stadium where pitchers warm up before they enter the game. In addition, it can also refer to a team’s group of relief pitchers. Finally, it can refer to a throwing session that a pitcher performs in between games.

In most baseball stadiums, the bullpen is a fenced-in box in the back of the outfield. Relief pitchers and bullpen pitchers sit there during games, while the rest of the team sits in the dugout. Relievers remain in the bullpen so they can begin to warm up if they need to come into pitch. This is why each team’s group of relief pitchers is often referred to collectively as the bullpen. And because the bullpen is where pitchers throw warm-up and practice sessions, “throwing a bullpen” has become another word for throwing one of those sessions – even if it doesn’t actually take place in the bullpen.

Why Is it Called a Bullpen in Baseball?

The term “bullpen” has been in use for nearly as long as professional baseball has existed. There are several theories for where the name comes from, but there is no definitive answer.

On dairy farms and at rodeos, bulls are often kept in a separate pen, much like how relief pitchers watch the game from a different area than the rest of the team. This area is fenced in with a swinging gate, much like a literal bull pen. This seems to be the most likely explanation as to where the name comes from. However, other theories suggest it comes from the Bull Durham Tobacco company, or that it comes from a separate, related game called pitchers used to play “bull pen”.

How Many Pitchers Make Up a Bullpen?

A typical major league team will carry seven or eight pitchers in their bullpen. However, this number can vary depending on the team and the time of year. For example, in September teams are allowed to increase the number of players on their roster, so they might add a reliever to their bullpen. Similarly, in the postseason teams use fewer starting pitchers, so they might add an extra bullpen pitcher or two to the roster.

What Are the Roles in a Bullpen?

The most important role in a bullpen is that of the closer. The closer is typically the best relief pitcher on the team, and his job is to pitch the final inning of close games where his team has the chance to win. Closers are most likely to pitch in save situations.

Other bullpen roles include the set-up man, the middle-relief pitchers, and the long man. A set-up man is typically the second-best reliever on the team who pitches right before the closer enters the game. A middle-reliever is usually a trustworthy pitcher but not a dominant arm, so he is used in the sixth and seventh innings of a game – also known as the middle innings. A long man is a reliever who enters the game when the starting pitcher has to come out early, and his job is to pitch for several innings at a time. In other words, he is expected to pitch for a long time.

What is a Save?

What is a Bullpen in Baseball? Read This First! - Baseball Scouter (1)

A “save” is a statistic used to measure the performance of a team’s bullpen or an individual bullpen pitcher. A save is awarded to a bullpen pitcher if they finish a game in which their team wins. However, there are a few additional conditions that must be met for a pitcher to earn a save.

Firstly, he cannot be the starting pitcher or the winning pitcher. Secondly, he must have pitched at least one-third of an inning. That means he must have gotten at least one batter out. Finally, he must meet one of these three conditions: either he entered the game with no more than a three-run lead and pitched for a full inning; he entered the game with the tying run on base, at the plate, or up next; or he pitched for at least three full innings at the end of the game.

What Does It Mean For a Pitcher to Throw a Bullpen?

“Throwing a bullpen” means having a warm-up session before a game or on an off-day. Pitchers will throw bullpen sessions to keep their arms fresh in between games. They will also throw bullpen sessions as part of the rehab process when returning from injury.

Sometimes, a free-agent pitcher will also throw a bullpen during the offseason. The purpose of this bullpen session is for scouts from different teams to come and watch the pitcher throw.

What Does a Bullpen Day Refer To?

A bullpen day is a scheduled day for a pitcher to throw a bullpen session. Specifically, it refers to a day when a starting pitcher will throw a practice bullpen session in between his starts. Typically a bullpen day will take place two or three days before the pitcher’s next start.

A bullpen day can easily be confused with a bullpen game. However, they are two very different things. A bullpen game refers to a game in which a team decides not to use a traditional starting pitcher. Instead, they plan to get through all nine innings using only relief pitchers. While a bullpen day refers to a practice session, a bullpen game refers to a real game.

What Is the Purpose of a Bullpen Game?

Most of the time, a team will rely on a starting pitcher to pitch the first five to seven innings of a game. Therefore, the bullpen’s job is usually to finish the final two to four innings.

Sometimes, however, a team will decide not to use a starting pitcher. This might be because one of their starters is injured, because the team wants to give their starters some extra rest, or because the team is playing a double-header that day and does not have an extra starting pitcher to use.

Who Is in the Bullpen in Baseball?

The bullpen is where relief pitchers wait during the game and where starting pitchers warm up before the game. But these aren’t the only people who work in the bullpen.

Every major league bullpen also has a bullpen coach. This coach watches over and advises relief pitchers while they warm up. It is also this coach’s job to remain in communication with the pitching coach back in the dugout.

In addition, a bullpen would not be complete without a bullpen catcher. The bullpen catcher is there to help pitchers warm up, because, of course, they need someone to throw to. Sometimes, the bullpen catcher also serves as a catching coach or secondary bullpen coach.

Related Questions

What Is a LOOGY in Baseball?

A LOOGY is a bullpen role that largely no longer exists at the major league level. LOOGY is an acronym that stands for “left-handed one-out guy,” and it refers to a left-handed pitcher who comes into the game just to face a tough left-handed batter on the opposing team. He would typically be removed right after facing this hitter, thus why he was called a “one-out” pitcher.

However, since Major League Baseball implemented the three-batter minimum rule, there is no longer a need for LOOGY pitchers. All pitchers in a team’s bullpen must be capable of facing at least three batters per outing.

What Does “Playing the Bullpen” Mean?

“Playing the bullpen” can mean a couple of different things. It might refer to a strategy used by a manager in which he heavily relies on his bullpen and uses many different relief pitchers to finish off a game. Alternatively, it could also refer to a strategy used by the offensive team, in which they try to get the starting pitcher out of the game as early as possible so as to play against the bullpen.

How Many Starting Pitchers Are on a Baseball Team?

Most of the time, a baseball team carries five starting pitchers, and the rest of the pitchers on their roster are relievers. In certain rare instances, a team will carry six starting pitchers instead. They might choose to do this if one of their starters is particularly injury-prone, or if they want to give all of their starters some extra rest.

In the postseason, teams will carry fewer starting pitchers – three in a short series and four in a longer series. Therefore, the rest of the pitchers on the roster will all be relievers. This means a postseason team might have as many as ten pitchers in their bullpen at any time.


What is a bullpen in baseball? ›

The bullpen is the small area on a baseball field where pitchers warm up, throwing practice pitches to a catcher. The bullpen is often situated in the foul zone along the side of the field.

Why is it called a bullpen in baseball? ›

Previously, in the late 19th century latecomers to ball games were cordoned off into standing-room areas in foul territory. Because the fans were herded like cattle, this area became known as the "bullpen", a designation which was retained when those areas became the spot where relief pitchers would warm up.

What does it mean to be in the bullpen? ›

in baseball, a place near the playing area where relief pitchers (= players in a team who throw the ball to the batter if the player first chosen to do this is removed from the game) can throw the ball to get ready to play if they are needed: Mike was warming up in the bullpen.

How many player are in a bullpen? ›

While some clubs have eight (or more) relievers, a well-deployed seven-pitcher bullpen allows a team to carry an extra bench hitter, which can be an advantage.

How many pitchers are in a bullpen in a game? ›

Because each pitcher throws such a small fraction of his team's innings, it's necessary for each team to have a pitching staff consisting of as many as 12 or 13 pitchers. Each pitcher is assigned a role, generally either as a starting pitcher or as a relief pitcher.

How many pitches is a bullpen? ›

Every other day is truly a recovery day." Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio says a bullpen session takes about seven minutes and can be anywhere from 25 to 50 pitches, depending on whether the pitcher is a starter or a reliever and on how much he likes to throw.

What is the new word for bullpen? ›

“PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the 'arm barn' instead,” stated PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Words matter, and baseball 'bullpens' devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals.”

Why do bullpen only pitch one inning? ›

Sometimes the manager replaces an opener with a series of other relievers who would only pitch one or two innings in a game, usually due to injury or fatigue affecting the team's starters or other strategical reasons; this approach became known as a bullpen game.

Why do pitchers stay in bullpen? ›

The bullpen is where the relief pitchers stay during a game so that when they are called upon, they can quickly warm up and be ready to enter the game. In some cases, the term “bullpen” is used to describe a team's group of relief pitchers.

What do players do in the bullpen? ›

The bullpen is an area in the outfield where relief pitchers warm up before entering the game. Conversely, the dugout is an area along the baselines where players sit and watch the game when their team is not on the field.

Has a bullpen catcher ever played in a game? ›

A bullpen catcher differentiates from a typical catcher as they are considered a coach and not a player, thus they cannot be behind home plate in an official game.

What is bench vs bullpen in baseball? ›

Metaphorically, the bench refers to the group of position players who are not starters (it does not include pitchers, as these are part of the bullpen). A team can thus be said to have a "good bench", meaning that it has strong substitute players.

Who do they call it a bullpen? ›

Late-arriving fans in the 19th century were escorted to standing-room areas in foul territory. Because the fans were herded like cattle, this area became known as the “bullpen,” a designation which was later adopted for relief pitchers who warmed up there.

How much do bullpen players get paid? ›

MLB bullpen catchers make an average of $90,000 per year, though salaries can vary from $30,000 to over $110,000. Although they're not technically a player, bullpen catchers are an essential part of the team, working to warm up starting pitchers before games and relief pitchers before they enter for their outings.

Can bullpen pitchers pitch more than one inning? ›

Many relievers work only an inning or two -- at most -- in a given game, though most clubs have a "long reliever" whose role is to come in to pitch two, three or four innings in relief of a starting pitcher who was removed from a game particularly early.

Why do MLB teams have bullpen games? ›

A starting pitcher might get an injury or struggle in the first inning for various reasons, which means the team needs to bring in a new pitcher to pitch. When this occurs, the match becomes a bullpen game because most relief pitchers can only go 1-2 innings.

Can a bullpen pitcher pinch hit? ›

The game pitcher may pinch-hit or pinch-run only for the Designated Hitter.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. Nancy Dach

Last Updated: 09/11/2023

Views: 5844

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. Nancy Dach

Birthday: 1993-08-23

Address: 569 Waelchi Ports, South Blainebury, LA 11589

Phone: +9958996486049

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Web surfing, Scuba diving, Mountaineering, Writing, Sailing, Dance, Blacksmithing

Introduction: My name is Prof. Nancy Dach, I am a lively, joyous, courageous, lovely, tender, charming, open person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.