As a lot of you know, I’m in favor of using pitch counts to monitor fatigue for pitchers, but not to limit the number of pitches or innings a pitcher can throw in a game. My thought was that for most guys, instead of limiting the number of total pitches thrown, pay more attention to a number thrown in an inning, and pay MORE attention in innings when a batter faces eight or more pitches, or a pitcher clears 20 pitches.
For example, I’d let any starter throw 33 pitches in the first inning. But, in the second, I’d lower that number by two – and keep doing that for the rest of the game. At the end of seven, I wouldn’t let my starter throw 19 pitches without having someone ready to go in the pen. However, if the guy threw 20 or more pitches in the inning, you’d reduce that number in subsequent innings by another two pitches (let’s say it was in the second inning), so now instead of allowing 29 pitches in the third, I’d move it to 27. If it were 25 pitches thrown in the inning, knock another two off, and if 30, knock two more off… It’s a rule of thumb, mind you, and something that could be modified based on experience with different pitchers.
The idea was that over time, the number of pitches someone could reasonably expect to throw would be less with each inning, but if he was still effective, you could keep the starter out there. Theoretically, then, a pitcher could throw 140 pitches in a game over eight or nine innings, but if few or no innings were higher than 20 or so, it probably wouldn’t be very taxing at all.
And, you could do other things – if you notice that someone seems to struggle, change the counts. Still, it’s a system that doesn’t say “you’re done” after 100 pitches, and even encourages pitches to do things like build endurance. To help this process out, I’d also speed up the game so that pitchers weren’t waiting too long between pitches, trying to end games in 2:40 rather than 3:10. Finally, it would reduce the number of pitchers needed on a roster from 12 or 13 back to 10 or 11, which would prevent guys like Cody Ross getting too much time on the mound.
Well, it’s nice when other professionals agree with me. Joe Posnanski and Bill James discuss it on SI’s site. In short, they discuss how Nolan Ryan is encouraging Texas pitchers to build leg strength, get in better shape, and plan on throwing more complete games. I like it.
On to other news…
Yorvit Torrealba told of the fear he and his family faced when dealing with his son’s kidnapping. The kid is doing better, but he lives in Miami now. Amazing story, really. Give it a read.
If you are looking for injury updates, here’s some good news and some bad news…
Good News: Grady Sizemore is only about a week away from playing again. The bad news is that Jake Westbrook is not.
Mets outfielder Gary Sheffield is hitting despite a sore knee, which will require an MRI. Not sure if it’s good or bad news.
On the Mend? Welcome back to the Rays, Jason Bartlett. Also, Toronto catcher Michael Barrett heads to rehab; Ryan Freel does the same for the Cubs.