Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pitch count debate

I wanted to share this article I read online about the concept of having a pitch count. Nolan Ryan has made a valid point and is trying to build his pitchers up to be able to pitch longer and to sway away from the mindset that 100 pitches is a limit. The authors make great points and I agree with them fully. Who came up with the number of 100 pitches and could there also be extraneous factors that contribute to the players being injured?

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Joe: Something happened around 2001, too. I'm not sure what it was ... but while managers were definitely being more careful with pitchers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it had not reached the point of absurdity. In 2000 managers let their starters throw 120 pitches or more about 12 percent of the time -- there were 454 instances of a pitcher throwing 120-plus pitches. That was more or less in line with the 1990s.

But in 2001 the 120-plus pitch games were cut in half. By 2006 they were cut in half again. Last season there were only 71 games where a pitcher threw 120-plus pitches ... these games have become almost extinct. I do think it's fear-driven ... most of the managers I talk to around the game privately DESPISE the pitch count. Or, more to the point, they despise the oppressive nature of pitch counts -- "Sure, we have to be careful with pitchers," one big-league manager told me. "But we're to the point now where we're babying them. You'll see pitchers now throw five or six good innings, and they feel like they've done their job. That's our fault."

Bill: The problem with the move toward pitch counts was that there was never any logic or research that said that limiting a pitcher to 100 pitches would prevent injuries, as opposed to 130 pitches, or 130 for young pitchers and 160 for mature pitchers, or as opposed to getting the pitcher out of the game at the first sign of a problem, or as opposed to improving his training regimen. I am opposed to making decisions based on fear, and in favor of making decisions based on logic and research, and therefore I support what Nolan Ryan is trying to do.

There are so many factors that come into play. For example, a guy could be coasting through a game and still be fine to throw 130 pitches. On the other hand, a guy who has labored throughout the course of a game may really only be able to handle throwing 90 pitches. Do you continue to let him pitch because he hasn't yet reached that "100-pitch max." Or do you base your decision to take him out because he has really labored through the start?

I highly suggest you check out this link. It is a great piece of writing and lets you really question the current system that is place. While you have to obviously limit the number of pitches a guy throws, it is clear that the limit of 100 pitches has been taken too literally and there needs to be a degree of flexibility in the number of pitches a guy can throw. These guys are getting paid a lot of money to only average 5-6 innings a start.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Thx for the article. Was great!

The Commish! said...

Great article Christina.

I agree-it's total BS that as soon as a guy reaches 100 pitches-time to take him out. They are getting paid a lot of money. Their arms can handle 100+ pitches.

Kyle said...

Great article.

I am not a fan of the 100 pitch limits. I think there needs to be some common sense. A guy throwing 95 pitches in the 3rd is going to be more tired than the guy with 105 in the 7th due to a bunch of K's.

Injuries can happen regardless and I believe in the future we will find out that more pitchers than people thought used PEDs. I personally think the PEDs have more to do with some pitchers getting some of these injuries and blowing out their arms than the pitch counts.

I wish pitchers would be conditioned to throw more. I do not like games being decided by the middle relievers. Having a closer is one thing, but I don't like games being decided so often by pitchers who pitch the 5th to 8th innings.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

There should be some flexibility with pitch counts BUT Nolan Ryan is taking it too far. Even great pitchers like Santana only go 7 max most of the time. It is a common belief that pitchers are highly paid SO why misuse that commodity in any way.Ryan mistakenly thinks that because he pitched a certain way that's how it works for everybody else...WRONG! POsada also calls a game with pitches IN mind he can't hit! There is no room for indidvidual adjustments in that regard.Same concept in that Ryan should realize that not everyone can pitch 125 pitches a game, but some should.

I see Ryan's point but I have a feeling that it might not work to the degree he hopes it will. Not every pitcher is Doc Halladay or Nolan Ryan for that matter.