Two Japanese High School Pitchers Throw a Total of 1,398 Pitches in 50-Inning Game

The game began on a Thursday, with Chukyo High posting a 3-0 victory over rival Sotaku High on Sunday morning.

“Yes, both starters stayed in for the entirety of the game — Chukyo’s Taiga Matsui threw a total of 709 pitches and Sotoku’s Jukiya Ishioka threw 689.”

 

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How the Changeup Has Changed the Game of Baseball

“Velocity and power remain the game’s most prized attributes, but in a league where most guys can throw the ball hard or slug the ball far, the changeup keeps them honest,” writes Sports Illustrated’s Joe Lemire. 

“Indeed, many of the game’s best pitchers are among the heaviest practitioners of the changeup: Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Stephen Strasburg, David Price, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Jarrod Parker, James Shields, Chris Sale, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Mike Minor, CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, Matt Harvey, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Kris Medlen and Chris Tillman all throw the pitch more than the league-wide average of about 10 percent.”

Read Joe Lemire’s Sports Illustrated story.

Regarding pitch counts: Lackey vs. Verlander

With all the discussion during the ALCS broadcast about pitch counts, Peter Gammons looks at the 2013 season performance of John Lackey and Justin Verlander as their pitch counts increase.

They both have held opposing batters to a .219 batting average after 100 pitches but Verlander’s home run rate sees a steady increase from 1.4% (1-50 pithches), 2.7% (51-100 pitches) and 3.8% (101+ pitches). Unlike Verlander, Lackey’s home run rate decreases over time but it also starts at 3.9% (1-50 pitches) and eventually drops to 3.1%.

Read the Gammons Daily story.

Clayton Kershaw on pitch counts

Clayton Kershaw threw 124 pitches, the third highest total of his career, in the Dodgers 6-1 win in Game 1 of the NLDS in Atlanta.

“It’s the postseason. You can kind of throw pitch counts out the window,” Kershaw told Craig Sager on the TBS broadcast after the game. “This is what you get taken out early for earlier in the season, for games like this.”

Maybe that’s true, but Kershaw went 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in his next two starts against the Cardinals in the NLCS. Coincidence?

Read the SB Nation story.

When 772 pitches isn’t enough

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Jones has written an amazing piece of sports journalism exploring Japanese baseball culture, with a focus on the overuse of 16-year-old Tomohiro Anraku, who threw 772 pitches over five games in nine days. For now, Anraku is the greatest teenage pitcher in Japan. How long will his arm stay healthy?

In America, nagekomi, like throwing 772 pitches in a single tournament, would be considered child abuse. Scientists would debunk it, and surgeons would decry it. But in Japan, nagekomi is important. It’s maybe even essential. It is many things all at once, but mostly it is an exercise in remembering, and it is beautiful.

Read the ESPN The Magazine story.

Jeff Passan on the pitch count problem and how cultural convictions are ruining Japanese pitchers

Jeff Passan writes about 16-year-old Tomohiro Anraku thowing 772 pitches in one week during a high school baseball tournament in Japan.

During the final game Wednesday, Anraku, whose fastball reached 94 mph earlier in the tournament, labored to crack 80. It was his third consecutive day starting a game and his fourth in five days, and those came after his first start of the tournament, in which he threw 232 pitches over 13 innings.

When word of Anraku’s exploits filtered out from Koshien Stadium, the reaction depended on proximity. Nearby, in the Japanese baseball culture that equates pitch count with superiority, Anraku was a hero. Far away, in an American baseball culture that has seen more elbows and shoulders blow out than ever before, Anraku was the picture of excess. For a man who bridges the societies, Anraku represented something much more unsavory.

Read the Yahoo! Sports story.

Baseball 2013: Here come the flamethrowers

More fastball pitchers are throwing at speeds reached by few a decade ago. Why are pitchers throwing faster and what does it mean for baseball?

In the 2003 season, there was only one pitcher who threw at least 25 pitches 100 mph or faster (Billy Wagner). In 2012, there were seven, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

In 2003, there were only three pitchers who threw at least 700 pitches 95 mph or better. In 2012, there were 17. There were 20 pitchers a decade ago who threw at least 25% of their fastballs 96 mph or faster. Last year there were 62, including Carter Capps, the Seattle Mariners’ 22-year-old right-hander, whose average fastball travels 98.3 mph, tying him with the Royals’ Kelvin Herrera for the top spot in the game.

Read The Wall Street Journal story.