Approaching and exceeding 100 pitches

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As Andy Pettitte worked into the 8th inning on Sunday afternoon against the Rangers, his pitch count started to creep up toward the century mark, and Michael Kay and John Flaherty turned their attention to Joe Girardi’s decision to keep Pettitte in the game. From pitch 96 through 107 — the last Pettitte would throw — Kay and Flaherty continued to mention the pitch count.

After striking out Michael Young, Pettitte had thrown 104 pitches, and Josh Hamilton, a lefty, came to the plate. Three pitches later, Pettitte had retired Hamilton on a foul pop, and after 107 pitches, his day was done. That century mark, though, had been a big moment for Pettitte. In his two previous starts, he had thrown 94 pitches and then 100, but this time, Girardi unleashed him.

During the pitch count discussion, Kay mentioned a conversation he had with Girardi following A.J. Burnett‘s start. When Burnett’s pitch count started to creep up, the guys in the booth again wondered when Girardi would turn to his bullpen, and that time, Girardi allowed Burnett to throw 111 pitches. He had previously thrown 92 and 94 in his two starts. Girardi said he wanted to get his starters stretched out, and in both games, the Yanks had leads large enough to allow the team some leeway. Pettitte could throw 107 pitches without endangering the lead; Burnett could toss 111 low-stress pitches to build up arm strength. It was, in a sense, an extension of Spring Training.

Yet what struck me most was how rigidly Kay and Flaherty were adhering to the 100-pitch mark. It seemed as though the team just had to remove their starters after 100 pitches because of some magically point in the game when the hurlers tire. Should we care that much though about 100 pitches?

In a recent piece on how teams on a budget should treat their cost-controlled arms, R.J. Anderson mused on pitch counts over at Maddon’s Mission. He discussed the Rangers’ approach toward pitch count. The Rangers, he said, are “implementing better conditioning with the ideology that pitch counts won’t matter because their pitchers will be more able to survive higher workloads.” Why, he wondered, do we care about the round number of 100 pitches?

For young pitchers, the prevailing philosophy seems to be go hard or go easy but ne’er the twain shall meet. Work your kids until they can’t throw anymore and get the most of their cost-controlled years — see, for example, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito — or keep their pitch counts under the microscope — see, for example, Joba Chamberlain. But what of the old guys? The Yanks could do well to let them push the envelope.

Last year, Joe Girardi allowed his pitchers to exceed 100 pitches 78 times. Opposing batters hit .237/.332/.316 in those 208 plate appearances. It’s a small sample size but not one that indicates we should be too worried when a starter reaches the century mark. In fact, in the AL as a whole, pitchers threw more than 100 pitches 978 times last year, and opponents hit .258/.335/.399. That’s an sOPS+ of 106, indicating that pitchers who exceeded 100 pitches generally performed better at that point in the game than pitchers overall had earlier. On the surface, that makes sense because if a pitcher is still in at that point, clearly, he’s throwing well.

So far this year, the Yanks have put together a solid bullpen and a nice run of starts from their rotation. Last year, CC Sabathia led the way with 25 starts of more than 100 pitches, and A.J. and Andy threw 23 and 22 respectively. The team can push the envelope, and their starting horses are in good enough pitching shape to go more than 100 pitches every five days. Until the results say otherwise, let them throw.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

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A good chance for Vazquez to get back on track
2010 Draft: College Targets
  • Snakes on the mother effin Temple Of Doom

    Surprised that AJ and Andy had almost as many >100 pitch outings last year as did CC. Wouldn’t have guessed that.

    • radnom

      I wouldn’t have either, but it makes sense. Think about how many baserunners Pettite allows and how many walks AJ allows. They probably sometimes need as many pitches to go 5 or 6 that CC would need to go 7 or 8.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    In his two previous starts, he had thrown 94 pitches and then 100, but this time, Girardi unleashed him.

    I laughed. I view pitch counts like UZR, they are completely boversimplified by the MSM and not fully understood.

    I’d rather a guy throw 115 pitches over 9 innings than 100 over 6 any day of the week. Many in the MSM (as noted above) see that 101st pitch and their heads explode.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      The whole context of pitch counts is ignored as well. I believe that throwing 115 pitches in a 7-1 game isn’t nearly as stressful on a pitcher as throwing 115 pitches in a 4-3 game, for instance.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Agreed.

        I also wonder if pitches thrown from the windup vs. pitches thrown from the stretch is a factor.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          I think that’s more of a factor when it comes to velocity, but more on that over the next few days.

      • radnom

        I disagree. I think this is often taken into account by announcers calling a game.
        Where it gets lost is the next day, when people simply see the final number.

  • radnom


    On the face of it, that makes sense because if a pitcher is still in at that point, clearly, he’s throwing well.

    And that is exactly why you can’t use those numbers to justify letting pitchers stay in the game longer.
    The only reason those numbers are so good is because managers have a weird hangup on triple digits pitch counts and only let guys exceed them in certain circumstances (when they are pitching well). Those numbers have no predictive value on what would happen if a manger, for example, assumed every starter could go 118 on an average night and moved the marker there.

  • bexarama

    I was gonna respond to this but then I spent about two minutes just sort of looking at Pettitte’s neck in that picture.

    /embarrassing admission’d

    I agree, though. If the guy is rolling, well don’t put him out there for a zillion pitches, but it’s not like pitchers are ticking time bombs after 100 pitches exactly.

    Do you know what was the maximum # of pitches any Yankee starter threw in a game in 2009? I wonder how long Girardi kept his starters in over 100 pitches. If they were going 103 pitches, that’s different than going 120.

    • Jose

      CC and AJ are tied with 123 pitches (CC did it twice)

      There were 87 games where Girardi allowed a pitcher to throw 100 pitches or more. 11 games with 115 or more. 4 games with 120 or more.

      • bexarama

        thanks. :)

  • Ansky

    I’m from the Jim Kaat school regarding pitch counts. I say if they’re throwing a good game, then keep them in and let them throw. I think pitchers are babied too much from the minors to the majors. Sometimes I wonder if even the younger pitchers themselves are starting to get affected by it. For example, would a pitcher start wondering on the mound why the mananger hasnt come to get him yet since he’s already thrown his 100th pitch?

    • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

      Not that I know or anything, but the problem I have with psychological “arguments” like this is that, to accept them fully, you basically have to believe there’s more or less no communication between a manager and his players.

      • Ansky

        I agree 100%. I was just wondering aloud. My main point though is that I too am in agreement with the post. If the pitcher’s rolling, release the leash and see how it goes.

        • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

          I don’t disagree with that, per se, but on the other hand the season is 162 games long, and a manager does have to keep in mind how his various options will affect the team over the long run. Put it this way, if CC is rolling with 115 pitches through 8 innings in a 3-1 game, how much is it going to bother you if Girardi calls in Mo rather than have CC throw another 10-20 pitches?

          • Evan NYC

            I would say not at all. I would rather have a 100% Mo than a 45-50% CC on the mound to get those final three outs.

    • Chris

      The problem with this logic is that there is a lot of evidence that excessive workloads lead to injuries. There are certainly pitchers that can handle those higher workloads without injury, but to this point no one has figured out how to differentiate those pitchers before they get injured.

      The record books are littered with pitchers that had tremendous workloads as young starters, but then fell off due to injury. Some of them are remembered (Valenzuela, Kerry Wood), but most of them are forgotten.

  • Thomas

    Another thing to consider (in addition to the stress level of the innings) is the pitcher and his mechanics.

    Some pitchers have deliveries with more effort require than others (for example, Chamberlain vs. Wakefield). Even in a blowout, a max effort/bad mechanics pitcher will still put a lot of stress on his arm. Thus, it would make sense to limit their pitches (whether it be at 100 or another number), in an attempt to limit their injury risk.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      That’s only if we believe 100 pitches is the make-or-break point for injuries. I don’t believe that’s been proven substantially yet. That’s one of R.J.’s points in the piece linked above.

      • radnom

        I don’t think Thomas was claiming that it was.

        (whether it be at 100 or another number)

        Unfortunately I don’t think a single number or even range will ever be proven substantially given how many factors affect the stress level of pitches and how much that number varies between individual pitchers (not to mention varies between a single pitcher over the course of his career).

        • Thomas

          Yeah, a specific number or range will probably never be found, because there are too many factors at hand (ages, mechanics, types of pitches thrown, stressful innings, etc). It would really be individual for the pitcher and by the time enough data was obtained and anyone determined the range for a pitcher, his career would likely be over (or his age would change enough to make the analysis moot).

      • Thomas

        I agree. It may not be 100 pitches, but there may be a pre-determined amount that can limit the risk of injury, dependent on the pitcher.

        I did write: “it would make sense to limit their pitches (whether it be at 100 or another number)

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      yeah but I think a key point here is that max effort/bad mechanics will always put a lot of stress on a pitcher’s arm, and the more pitches thrown the more injury risk. The argument here is not about limiting pitches, it’s about blind adherence to an arbitrary number. Though in my opinion the adherence is more in the media than in actual play. I don’t think managers put the same stock in 100 pitches as do the writers, because for the managers/teams being accurate is the most important thing, whereas for the writers having something simple and easily communicable is the most important thing.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

    The biggest fallacy of the magic 100 is that each pitcher has a different threshold. There are a lot of factors but I’d guess that it’s virtually impossible to define in an exact number of pitches how long a pitcher can go. I think managers are better off just watching their pitchers closely, and reacting not necessarily to the results, but to the mechanics of the pitcher’s delivery. There are a lot of indicators of tiredness that can not only lead to diminished stuff but also to increased stress on joints or weak muscles, rather than using thigh, hip, shoulder, and biceps strength as well as gravity to generate velocity. I think most managers/pitching coaches pay a lot more attention to those than they do pitch counts.

    Which, of course, is not to say that managers are going to run their pitchers out there for 120+ pitches with any regularity any time soon. Naturally, even if it isn’t showing up in the results or even a pitcher’s mechanics, he will at some point tire, and there’s no sense over-stretching a pitcher to try to avoid the strong part of your bullpen unless your bullpen reaaally sucks.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Agreed, when Clemens was on the Sox, with Heathcliff Slocumb as his closer, he was regularly throwing 120+ pitches per game. Clemens in his long career, never had arm problems. So to assume that everyone hits a limit at 100 pitches is crazy.

      In his last year with the Sox, at 33 made 34 starts and he had pitch counts of (seriously) 161, 158, 151, 142, 139, 134, 132, and 131. He had 14 more starts over 120. His arm never fell off, or got injured.

      • Accent Shallow

        Clemens is in the conversation for greatest pitcher of all-time, though, and he came up in a different era. How good of a data point is he?

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          That’s my point about the people who think 100 pitches is the magic number. It’s different for everyone. For some people maybe it’s 80, some maybe it’s 150. But we’ll never find out if everyone simply decides 100 it is.

          • Chris

            How do you find that magic number without pitching everyone until they’re injured? You have to take an educated guess and apply it to everyone.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              That’s what pitching coaches are for, to identify when a guys stuff starts slipping, or he’s not finishing his delivery, or he’s losing command, or his arm slot is dropping.

              With all of the new biomechanics testing they have now, it should be easier to identify before even throwing in a live game.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

              You have to take an educated guess and apply it to everyone.

              No, you don’t. You have to take an educated guess, but applying the same estimate that you have for one pitcher to all the others would be ridiculously stupid, not to mention lazy. Every pitcher is different, and should be assessed differently.

              • Evan NYC

                To quote Hunter S. Thompson “Those who truly know where The Edge is are the ones who have gone over.” I don’t think you can really know what a pitchers pitch limit is until you throw him until he breaks. I think that 100 mark is something that sounds nice and is easy to keep an eye on for managers. I would rather err on the side of caution that to put my $19M a year pitcher in harms way just for a few more tosses. Clearly situations dictate when to pull him or not, but to throw more pitches for the sake of a pitch count makes no sense.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

                  I agree about erring on the side of caution, but I don’t think there needs to be a universal pitch count because it’s “nice and easy to keep an eye on for managers.” The whole reason managers exist is to make difficult decisions, to think critically and thoroughly about things like this. If you want to maximize your team’s production/health quotient, no two players should ever be lumped together, especially pitchers. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to make a manager’s job easier unless doing so comes with zero sacrifice in production.

                • Evan NYC

                  I think the financial investment made in these pitchers has a lot to do with the workload they are asked to produce. If you look back to 2000, there were 160 MLB pitchers who eclipsed the 125 pitch mark. In 2004 there were 46. In 2007 there were 14. In these years the FA market has commanded such a ridiculous premium on starting pitching and inflation in salaries in general that the front offices are mandating that these pitchers not be maxed out in fear of curbing their investment.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

        He is not a great example, though, in my opinion. Clemens was a true freak in so many ways. His mechanics were perfect, he was always in unbelievably good pitching shape, and he may have had a little help on the side. Not to mention, he was just downright unbelievably good at pitching.

        I think every single pitcher has to be viewed as a single entity. When it comes to pure performance, statistical data is an extremely useful indicator, but much less so when it becomes to health. If I’m choosing between historical averages and a player-specific expert medical opinion, I’ll take the doctor’s word every time.

        /not really disagreeing with anything you actually said, just furthering the discussion’d

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          I think every single pitcher has to be viewed as a single entity.

          This is my main point. I know Clemens is an extreme outlier, but if at some point in his career, someone decided he needed to stop at 100 pitches, because someone said so, it would have been a shame.

          • Chris

            Maybe he did need to stop at 100 pitches in order to maintain a long career without steroids.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              Are you assuming he was doing steroids from day 1 though? He was throwing massive pitch counts long before any steroids allegations.

              • Chris

                He also showed a marked decline in his last few years in Boston (ages 30-33). He resurrected his career in Toronto, conveniently when he is alleged to have started using steroids. Without steroids, would his career have resembled Koufax where he had a great peak, but burned out too early?

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  His decline in Boston has been overblown though (the Sox smear campaign was alive and well back then). Ignoring W/L, he was a very good pitcher (and despite not being injured by the pitch counts, he was likely overworked). Also, if you look at those last 4 years, the first year was the worst of the 4. So going by age 31-33 he had an ERA+ of 142. He didn’t suck in other words.

                  Koufax was struggling through major arm injuries by 30, Clemens was past that point and had still had zero arm injuries.

                • Sweet Dick Willie

                  Koufax was struggling through major arm injuries by 30,

                  If by “struggling” you mean putting up an ERA+ of 190 and a WHIP of .985, then I guess you’re right.

                  The fact is, Koufax never struggled after he figured it out in 1962.

                  He did have an arthritic elbow which caused him great pain, but not nearly as much as it caused opposing batters.

                  He retired after his age 30 season on the advice of his doctor.

      • radnom

        Just because you can site one person who breaks the mold doesn’t mean that 100 pitches is not a good rule of thumb in general.

        Personally, I think it is rather arbitrary and not well supported – I’m just pointing out that highlighting one person who fits/doesn’t fit doesn’t prove anything either way.

      • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

        Ain’t steroids great?

  • Mike HC

    Agreed. I never understood why 100 was such an unbreakable number of pitches for pitchers of all types, shapes and sizes. Is throwing 100 breaking balls the same as 100 fastballs? Does a guy with a curve, slider, cutter, fastball repertoire put the same amount of stress on their arm than a fastball, change-up guy? Guys that throw effortlessly vs violent motions? Big guys vs little guys? It all can’t be the same.

    It seems like the area of pitch counts is still a relatively open book. I expect many people smarter than me to make some changes to the current conventional wisdom in the future.

    • Evan NYC

      But with the increase in pitcher salaries on the rise, I don’t see many front offices allowing their managers to stretch these guys much further than the 120 pitch mark. The days of 150 pitches are long gone.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    While people like Kay may misunderstand the point of the 100-pitch threshold (to be used more as a very general rule of thumb but not as a rule to be applied to each pitcher or each game), I guess it’s a sign of progress that they’re talking about being mindful of pitch-counts in the first place.

    • radnom

      It would be hard for them not to with that new ever-present pitch count graphic.

    • Mike HC

      Good point. The mere fact that pitch points and protecting pitchers arm has turned into a mainstream discussion is a step in the right direction.

    • Thomas

      IIRC, Kay really go into 100 pitches as the be all, end all with Mussina. For a few seasons with the Yankees, Mussina would often pitch worse at greater than 100 pitches (both by looks and I believe by statistics). Kay often wondered if it was mental issue (as well as physical) with Mussina.

      Since then, 100 pitches has become the stopping point for all.

  • kanst

    I think the thing that Kay was glossing over was the effort of the innings. If he is throwing 100 pitches because he is a little wild, but hes up 5 runs the whole time, those really arent stressful pitches, he doesnt have to put everything behind it. I think the smarter move is around 90 pitches start seeing if he is losing velocity or losing control. As long as he is mantaining his deliver and mantaining his velocity he is probably fine

  • tommydee2000

    I heard Bobby Valentine say on ESPN the other day that in Japan, they go more by the average of 15 pitches/inning to a max of 135 in 9 innings, even for young pitchers. To get 3 ML batters out today, 15 PPI seems like more of a realistic goal.

    • V

      I like that, but I say after 15 pitches, the stress can escalate heavily. If a guy is going 30 pitches per inning, I only give him 3 innings, not 4.5.

    • bexarama

      I think they also have more off days in Japan.

      • Thomas

        Isn’t it a 6 man rotation, too?

        • Chris

          I don’t know the details, but they only pitch about one day a week.

          Also, I don’t think that Japanese lineups are anything like an AL East lineup. A couple batters that you can relax with can make a big difference.

  • V

    If you want a simple argument, just ask Mr. Boversimplification Michael Kay who had a more stressful start on Saturday: Burnett at 111 pitches or Scott Feldman at 73.

  • Jammy Jammers

    I blame Grady Little.

  • Mike HC

    I think a fundamental problem with the pitch count debate centers around the fact that throwing a baseball that hard is not natural. Every time you throw a pitch, you are doing a small amount of damage to your arm. That is why starters need 4 days of rest between starts. So their arms can recover from the damage that was done.

    Applying that to pitch counts, the question is what is the right amount of damage? It is not a question of at what point you start to do damage to the arm, because every pitch causes a harm whether it is your first, 20th or 100th pitch. It is tough to really figure out the exact cut off point. And I don’t think 100 is necessarily the answer.

  • CS Yankee

    A few years back, I had my son go to a pitching clinic taught by Goose Gossage. It was cool and us coaches got to ask a lot of questions and Goose stated a couple of things that i found interesting;
    1) Today’s pitchers, all have these “zippers” (from surgery) because they don’t throw enough long toss to build up strength.
    2) Pitch counts are way overrated…if a coach doesn’t pick up lost control (mostly ball rising from not finishing the pitch), that they shouldn’t be the pitching coach.
    3) That he often felt more tired in throwing 60 pitches than he did throwing a 100, because when your mechanics are off you are likely to strain the arm (drag threw).
    4) Eck had the best control over any other pitcher he has ever seen. He asked him why he was always so mechanically on and Eck told him that he would practice his balance for hours at a time while in the hotel staring at a small spot on the wall while he went through his motion.
    5) That Mo has the best mechanics in the game today, but too many pitchers have the same form and this is a great advantage to the batters of today as they can pick up a ball alot easier with the same motion, timing and arm slot.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      I definitely agree that assigning an arbitrary number is going to be less accurate than simply watching a pitcher’s mechanics, but the purpose of assigning a pitch count is so that you can get the starter out of the game before his mechanics start to go awry, since bad mechanics are more likely to lead to injury.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    What I don’t get is, with all of the enhancements in technology, diet, workout regiment, medicine, etc, etc, etc, why are pitchers’ ability to throw larger amounts of pitches regressing? Everyone (not just Nolan Ryan) used to throw a ton of pitches in a 4 man rotation. What happened between now and then? Hell, in the 1800’s pitchers were throwing 400 innings, yet 100+ years later, no one even approaches 300. With just about everything else progressing, stats, bats, uniforms (but no cotton), why the regression in an arm’s ability to throw pitches?

    • Chris

      What happened between now and then?

      With no reserve clause, it became more important to have your pitchers stay healthy.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        I can get that from a baseball organization perspective, but those pitchers back then stayed plenty healthy as well.

        • CS Yankee

          Frank Tanana was a stud…threw 300+ innings for a couple of years I believe. He then was done at a very young age.

          Red Sox had a trio of pitchers that were real young but really solid in ’49 that were suppose to rule the AL for years to come. They were all but done a couple of years later from being overused.

          Add in the $’s in the arms today and we won’t see another 300 inning ever, and rightly so.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

            I agree that there certainly is overuse, but for every Frank Tanana, there is a Rich Harden who clearly hasn’t been overused, yet can’t stay healthy and has already seen major decline in stuff. At the end of the day, there’s no easy approach to this, every pitcher is, and should be treated, differently.

            • Mike HC

              But he has been managed delicately enough that he has pitched a little over 140 innings in each of the last two years, and is still healthy today. If they allowed him to just pitch like the good ol days, his career would probably have been long over by now. The way we use pitchers today and modern technology has probably saved his career.

    • http://www.pinstripepalace.blogspot.com Brien Jackson

      Hitters got tougher, pitches got more stressful, teams became more mindful that they were leaving good arms destroyed in the minors, etc.

    • radnom


      Hell, in the 1800’s pitchers were throwing 400 innings, yet 100+ years later, no one even approaches 300.

      Why the regression? Pitchers in the 1800’s were not throwing anything like the lowliest pitchers do today. The enhancements in all that stuff result in better pitchers, as well as more durable arms, but because pitching is such an unnatural motion the former progress greatly outpaces the later.

      • DF

        Right, what’s the article where they talk about pitching being maxed out? I think it’s been linked on RAB, but part of the discussion in it was that we have pushed the human body to its limit when it comes to throwing a baseball overhand. That’s probably not true of hitters, as it seems they just keep getting better and better, and technology (IMO) seems to be more helpful to an offense than to a pitcher. So we’ve maxed out pitchers while hitters keep evolving, meaning pitchers have to work that much harder to get anyone out. That wasn’t true in the 1800’s.

        • Mike HC

          Well, Tommie John and other ligament/arm surgeries should improve over time. Improving recovery time of major injuries, improving the chances of a full recovery (eventually, replacing your ligaments with artificial ones may even make you better than you were before), and other such surgical advancements can surely be seen as improvements in pitching I think. It can help guys pitch harder later in their careers and pitch longer in general without fear of injury.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        What about the 1970’s though? From 1880 to 1990 the workload of pitchers didn’t see nearly the drastic shift we’ve seen in the last 15 years of so.

    • Hughesus Christo

      It really doesn’t make much sense. I don’t buy the idea that pitchers weren’t throwing at or near max effort in the 20s. I think the real problem here is that pitchers are being coddled from day one, so they aren’t conditioned to do what they did back then. The fact that it’s harder to pitch today (true, but are the pitch counts significantly higher?) doesn’t account for the huge dropoffs in innings and games started.

      • Mike HC

        Weight training is completely different now. Muscles are much larger, while you can’t work out your tendons and ligaments. As your muscles get bigger and you throw harder, there is more stress on the ligaments and tendons. So even though they were at throwing at max effort when lifting weights was as foreign idea for baseball players, it takes less pitches to do the same amount of stress these days.

        • Hughesus Christo

          But do we know that they’re throwing harder? I don’t think so. I would also say that the pitchers generally aren’t hulking out like the hitters did in the 90s.

          • Mike HC

            Well, that is up for debate I guess. I really don’t know what the guys in the 20’s were up to, and barely know what today’s athletes are up to.

            I would assume though, maybe incorrectly, that guys today are doing far more weight training than guys in the 20’s. And with more muscle, comes more stress on the ligaments and tendons for each pitch thrown. That is how I see it.

    • SleepyKarl

      Will White is safe with his record of 680 innings in a season.

    • YankFan

      How about the negative aspect of working out? How about more muscles, while making you stronger, also puts more pressure on the arm. We already talk about pitching not being natural, can that not have an effect?

      Another thing is youth ball, IMO. You don’t want to hurt your kids but at the same time, if you are not pitching much as a 15 year-old are you not somewhat limited as you grow. You don’t throw 50 innings in HS & are limited to 50 pitches per game to being able to handle 150 pitches & 250 innings in the pros.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      I don’t think there is significant evidence of pitchers “regressing”. I think managers are getting smarter. For one thing, every single pitch puts the arm at a little risk, so the more you throw, the more risk you’re going to be at. Way back when, it was worth this risk for two reasons – one, the team didn’t have gobbles of money invested in the pitchers, and two, there weren’t fireballing relievers in the bullpen who by the time the starter got to the 6th or 7th inning and started tiring, had a significantly better shot at getting outs than does the starter at that point.

      I think starters could maintain a relatively similar level of health while throwing more pitches if they were so conditioned, but no amount of conditioning is going to keep a pitcher from getting tired eventually, and when you’ve got quality relief pitchers, what is the point of having the starter stay out there, especially when throwing more pitches does, however marginally, add injury risk?

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

        Also, there is an offensive side to this argument. Hitters have an unprecedented ability to improve their own skill levels, something which I think began in earnest right around the time that pitch counts started to go down. Hitters can spend hours in the batting cages, can get a combination of precise video analysis and workouts designed by people with a much higher level of understanding of biomechanics. Plus, lineups are geared specifically towards not making outs, which leads to more pitches, and more pitches from the stretch.

        All of this basically means that the pitches a tiring pitcher might have gotten away with in ’74 are less likely to fly by in 2010. And, like i said before, if you’ve got somebody better in your bullpen, what is the point of keeping the starter out there?

  • DF

    Found it. It was a Slate article:

    =http://www.slate.com/id/2116402/</a href)

    • DF

      Reply and HTML Double Fail.

      /DFA’d

  • larryf

    How many complete games do Yankee pitchers have (not counting no-hitters) in the Mo-era? Seems like we are essentially talking about 8 innings as a Yankee starter. That should rarely get over 120 pitches. Great bullpens and Larussa-style managing make this issue even more difficult to sort out. Depends on the start before, the start to follow, the types of pitches working well in the game and other variables. From the other side, I think that David Price game against us will not be repeated often this year. Too many patient hitters…

    • bexarama

      1996: 5 (not counting the Gooden no-hitter)
      1997: 11
      1998: 21! (not counting Wells’ perfect game)
      1999: 5 (not counting Cone’s perfect game)
      2000: 8
      2001: 6
      2002: 9
      2003: 8
      2004: 1
      2005: 7
      2006: 5
      2007: 1
      2008: 1
      2009: 3

      And we already have one 6-inning complete game in 2010. =P

      • larryf

        Thanks Bex. There’s more to you than the Andy neck fetish :-)

  • YankeesJunkie

    First, I would be interested to see the triple slash before 100 pitches for those pitchers that went more than 100 pitches in a game. Since those pitcher, in all likelihood pitched better than normal starts.

    Secondly when it comes to pitch counts I think it varies, pitchers should be trained to go more pitches, but it should be a more on a case by case basis. Obviously a guy like CC now can go deeper in a game like another pitcher such as a Joel Pinero. It just depends, but the big thing is that pitchers should try to go deeper in the games they go in the minors even if it means giving them less starts.

  • dark side of the goon

    Last year I heard either Al Leiter or David Cone say that pitch counts on young pitchers are important because pitchers (or any plyaer) does not spend the time in the minors that they used to. They’re younger coming up and not as seasoned. Again, this was something someone said on the radio (either one of those two).

    And in high leverage spots a high pitch count could be stressful but in low leverage spots, what the heck? Let him hurl.

    I think the 100 is stupid unless you’re K-Rod throwing 100 warmup pitches. Then you might get pissed. For good reason.

  • Cecala

    The pitch count is a pretty ridiculous stat anyway. A pitcher on any given day probably pitches 150+ balls but only ones that are during the inning count. A starter pitches all of his pre-game warm up pitches, the pitches between innings, and all of the throws over to first. The YES announcers put too much stock into the 100 pitch mark, but if the pitcher was pitching well, why not leave him in just because he is over 100.

  • sleepykarl

    I miss the glory days of ridiculous pitch counts. It took the Mets and Cardinals 19 combined pitchers to go 20 innings, while in 1920 two pitchers total were used in a 26 inning game…

  • Davor

    100 pitches comes from Baseball Prospectus and their PAP (Pitcher Abuse Points) and it was simply taken by the mainstream. For today’s pitchers, I’d say that dangerous territory is close to 120 – several pitchers I’ve seen around 120 in several consecutive starts were injured, including, famously, Mark Prior. Of course, this is no study, just anecdotal evidence.
    I’ve heard several other ways of judging tiredness. One pitching coach said that if pitcher starts dragging his back leg, he needs to be pulled, one expert (can’t remember who) said that inning pitch counts are more important than overall, and if inning approaches 40 pitches, pitcher should be pulled (even if he allows no runs). Same with two innings approaching 30 pitches each.
    For starters effectiveness late in the game, check insidethebook blog. MLG was talking about it some time ago. Basically, each time through the lineup hitters get better against the same pitcher, so that it’s better to put in solid reliever than have anyone but absolute ace face the lineup 4th time through.