Shifting wisdom on pitch counts

ESPN.com’s Tim Keown takes the angle that today’s pitchers are overpitched and undertrained.

“The reason everybody goes nutty when the White Sox allow Chris Sale to throw 115 pitches on May 28 and 119 on June 3 isn’t because there’s some magic number that portends weakness or injury or imminent surgery. Instead, it’s because most professional pitchers aren’t allowed to train their arms to throw 110-plus pitches in a game and be in a position to be strong five days later.”

“The two best minor league pitching prospects right now are Dylan Bundy of the Orioles and Trevor Bauer of the Diamondbacks. Both were drafted last year, and both have superhuman training regimens based on — get this — actual throwing. They throw long toss up to 400 feet on the day of their starts and they throw the day after and every day in between.”

But this isn’t the kind of training he’s writing about:

“Six weeks ago a high school pitcher in Louisiana, a kid signed to pitch in college at Tulane, threw 193 pitches and 15 innings in a single game. His opponent, signed to LSU, threw 10 innings and 154.”

Read the ESPN.com story.

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Boyd Nation is watching NCAA Division I baseball counts

The 1988 Mississippi State University graduate presents “a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye.”

“The general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don’t blame me; I’m just the messenger.”

On March 10, an Arkansas-Pine Bluff pitcher threw 164 pitches against South Dakota State.

Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Farrell considers exorcism on Rogers Centre mound

Luis Perez became the team’s seventh pitcher added to the long-term disabled list, writes Brendan Kennedy in thestar.com.

“In terms of the five-day routine, shoulder-strengthening program, all the maintenance work, which I would say are pretty standard within the industry … what we currently do is not a radical shift from anyone else.”

“Starters are usually capped at 105-108 pitches an outing, and typically throw 30 to 40 pitches in a bullpen side session on the second day between starts, for example.”

Read TheStar.com story.

Nolan Ryan has no use for pitch counts

SI Vault presents a 2010 story by Albert Chen on Nolan Ryan’s attempt to mold the Texas Rangers’ pitching staff in his own image.

“Under the Ryan regime the Rangers are pushing their pitchers to throw deeper into games, to extend their arms further, to rethink the physical limits that they’ve been told over and over they have.”

“In 2000 a manager allowed a pitcher to throw 120 pitches or more in a regular-season game 466 times. In 2004 that number was 186. Last season it was 92. Sometime in the last decade managers became programmed to pull their pitchers after they reached the 100-pitch limit. But why?”

2004 ESPN.com story on new age and old school approaches to baseball pitch counts

Alan Schwartz writes for ESPN.com that “the strict use of pitch counts, the practice of removing an otherwise strong pitcher to ward off possible (some say inevitable) arm trouble, has become one of the most divisive issues in baseball today.” At the time, notes Schwartz, this was “a relatively new phenomenon.”

“Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, as a 22-year-old Cub in 1988, threw 167 pitches in an 11-inning loss to the Cardinals. But he soon learned to dispatch with hitters so quickly, getting at-bats over with in one or two pitches, that he never had to run up such high counts again.”