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What Does SU Mean in Baseball? – A Simple Instruction

Willie-Smith

Written by

Andrew Coatess

Sean-Hunter

Fact checked by

Sean Hunter

what does su mean in baseball

Acronyms and abbreviations make baseball more interesting. However, these codes could also take an audience or a player out of the loop while enjoying the sport.

Learning the abbreviations in baseball tends to be the first step in familiarizing oneself with it.

Among the abbreviations standard in pitching is “SU.” But what does SU mean in baseball? Read on to learn.

SU Pitcher Meaning

su-baseball-meaning

The SU baseball meaning is set-up pitcher or man.

The SU sets the momentum before the closer. As a relief pitcher, he makes sure the eighth inning goes as well as possible in preparation for the ninth inning, which is covered by the closer.

Like in the closer’s case, so much is demanded of the SU pitcher. As a result, experts declare the SU as equal or secondary to the closer in terms of skill expectation.

Most certainly, both positions rank as the best in the relief pitcher roster.

How the SU Came to Be

The SU or set-up pitcher position did not become official until the closer pitcher position was invented.

Eventually, it became important for people to evaluate the performance of non-closers, including the SU in baseball.

At first, the statistic called “save” existed as the only stat for measuring relief performance.

But because “save” did not credit the set-up pitcher, the need to establish a new and distinct statistic for SU dawned upon baseball experts.

And so, the hold (HLD) statistic was born.

Understanding the HLD and Its Conditions

The HLD or “hold” stat, although not recognized as an official MLB statistic, still legitimizes players assigned to be the penultimate relief pitcher – specifically, the SU.

The HLD does not include the closer pitcher in its assessment.

Some relief pitcher’s actions lead to the credit of an HLD.

For instance, whenever a relief pitcher records one or more outs during a save situation while keeping his team in the lead until the next receiving pitcher, he is entitled to an HLD.

However, the HLD is not the only way to assess SUs. The blown save is another metric for grading their pitching quality.

How Many Innings Does an SU Pitch?

The SU completes one inning right before the closer takes over. A set-up pitcher may play for more than one inning, but that only happens very rarely.

That is because the SU’s main job is to keep the game’s score and rhythm just before the closer comes in to finish it off.

Others refer to the SU or set-up pitcher as a preparatory closer who paves the way for the primary or actual closer.

But whatever the case, the SU position remains distinct in the world of baseball.

Can Set-up Pitchers Become Closers?

su-stand-for-in-baseball

They most definitely do. Although distinct from each other, the SU pitcher and the closer roles remain so entwined that they almost involve the same responsibilities.

As a result, many experienced SU pitchers quickly shift or get promoted to the closer position.

Five Best Set-Up Men in MLB History

Here are the five (5) best set-up men (SU) in baseball history (not ranked in order):

  • David Robertson: Robertson (or famously known as “D-rob”) boasts an AL record of 34 holds and a World Series and a World Baseball Classic title.

And he has got more up his sleeve. His surprising SU tactics caused the New York Yankees to celebrate!

  • Tyler Clippard: Clippard has had 226 holds so far throughout his MLB career. Meanwhile, his career regular-season ERA figures at 3.13.

su-in-baseball

From 2009 to 2014, Clippard was favored as the setup man for the Washington Nationals with his high credibility.

  • Jonny Venters: Venters never held back in proving his worth and strength as the Braves’ set-up man and thrower.

su-pitcher-meaning

Venters has pitched 292 games in his career. In these pitches, he earned 96 holds and a brilliant ERA of 2.71.

  • Mike Adams: Experience served as Adam’s greatest teacher.

His stints with the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies helped develop his 90 mph fastball power.

In the 408 MLB games during which he appeared, Adams took 137 holds, an ERA of 2.41, and many more achievements, making him arguably the most respected SU pitcher.

  • Eric O’Flaherty: O’Flaherty is, without doubt, one of the most prominent SU pitchers out there. Many may say he is what SU stand for in baseball.

His 116 holds are a testament to that.

Other best SU pitchers include:

  • Pedro Strop
  • Joel Peralta
  • Jonathan Broxton
  • Kelvin Herrera
  • Drew Storen
  • Kenly Jansen
  • And many more

Conclusion

What does SU mean in baseball? The direct answer to that is set-up pitcher or set-up man.

The set-up pitcher is part of the relief pitchers who pitch before the closer.

His main job in the field is to prepare the team for the last inning, to maintain the score until the closer takes over, and set the rhythm for the closer.

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