Who’s Counting The Pitches And Why?

What do Danks, Wakefield, Hudson, Silva, and Volstad all have in common?  They all pitched very good games on Friday, they left with the lead, and their bullpen blew it.  Now I can’t say for sure why all these guys were pulled because I’m too lazy to do the research, but I imagine it had something to do with my least favorite stat, the pitch count.  When the hell did a major league pitcher become unable to throw a goddamn ball 100 times?  If they reach 120 they are considered warriors.  If they go over that the manager must be asleep because nobody is capable of throwing a ball that many times!   If you haven’t noticed this not so recent trend, you will after reading this.  Just watch your favorite team throughout the year and count how many times a starter goes 6+ innings of 1 or 2 run ball and gets pulled just to let the bullpen piss away his win.  It’s happened to the Cubs twice already and I noticed it happened on the south side tonight.  If you have a pitcher in a groove throwing through the batters, why do you pull him in favor of someone who’s been sitting on their ass all night spitting sunflower seeds?  It doesn’t make sense!  Let’s look at what happened last night.

John Danks throws 6 innings, 108 pitches allowing 1 ER with 6 K’s.  Sox lose in 11.

Tim Wakefield throws 7 innings, 96 pitches allowing 2 ER with 6 K’s.  Sox lose after two fresh pitchers blow it in the 8th.

Tim Hudson throws 7 innings, 77 pitches allowing 2 ER on just 3 hits.  Braves lose after Wagner gives up a 2 runs in the 9th for the tie and Medlen finally gives it up in the 13th.

Carlos Silva throws 6 innings, 71 pitches allowing 1 ER on just 3 hits.  Cubs lose after Drew Stubbs hits a grand slam off of the fresh armed Caridad.

Chris Volstad throws 6.1 innings, 87 pitches allowing 2 ER on 5 hits.  He gets into a bit of a jam but instead of letting him clean it up himself, the bullpen comes in and after an error or two they lose 7 to 3.

These are just the guys who lost a chance at a win.  Left off this list is J.A. Happ who was pulled after throwing 5 shutout innings.  Also Jorge De La Rosa was pulled after approaching the century mark in pitches.  He was only throwing a 1 hit shutout at the time.  Both of these guys went on to get the win but c’mon are you kidding me?  I would have liked to see a manager from today go to the mound and try to pull Gibby, Spahn, or Ryan from a 1 hit shutout simply because he threw the ball too many times.

I don’t see the reasoning in all of this.  We now have a 5 man rotation.  That gives them 4 days to recoup.  I bet Walter Johnson would have gone nuts if he had to wait for every fifth game to pitch.  We now have far superior conditioning and trainers in the clubhouse but we have the same amount of, if not more, injuries.  And these guys aren’t throwing anywhere near the amount of pitches these guy from the past had to.  I don’t get it.   We didn’t have a single 20 game winner last year.  Denny McClain won 31 games in ’68 pitching 336 innings.  Last year Verlander led the league in both wins, 19, and innings pitched, 240.  These guys are paid a hell of a lot of money to throw a ball.  I guess I would just like to see them be able to throw for the win and not have a preset amount of times they  are allowed to throw the ball.  It shouldn’t take 4 pitchers to throw a shutout.

I’ll stop ranting for now, but you’re all officially on notice!  Id love to see Guillen or Pinella just try to take the ball from this guy in the 7th after giving up just 1 hit!  My money’s on Gibby.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Who’s Counting The Pitches And Why?

  1. I can’t figure this out either. I can see if the pitcher’s young or has had injury issues (I’m guessing that’s why Wakefield was removed, otherwise, why remove a knuckleball pitcher?), but otherwise it’s just a case of teams being paranoid of ruining the arm of a major leaguer with a monster contract.

    It’s the reason that All-Star game ended in a tie. That should have never happened. But the managers were so damn scared to have anyone throw more than an inning.

  2. It’s very frustrating. And it isn’t as if injuries to pitchers have decreased as a result of allowing them to throw fewer pitches.

    If just one star pitcher demanded he pitch every 4th day and stay in each game deep, he’d win the Cy Young consistently. His sheer volume of starts and innings would overwhelm the league and begin to perhaps buck the trend.

    Roy Halladay is one of the few guys who insists on staying in a game deep. I thought I recalled a brief period several years ago when he was pitching on 4 days rest.

    Nolan Ryan hates the trend of pulling starters so early. He has been trying hard to get the Texas staff to go deeper and deeper.

    Pitchers are multi-million dollar investments these days. That is a big part of why they are treated like babies.

  3. What makes me even more irate is when the manager starts to whine about his bullpen being taxed.

    I don’t understand why they leave the game up to the bullpen pitchers. Especially when the bullpen is the pitchers that weren’t good enough to be in the starting rotation. They’re not good enough to throw every 5th day, but hey, we’ll go ahead and put them out there every other day or so when the game is on the line. Yeah, that makes perfect sense!

  4. Dan

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the practice in all cases. There’s a lot of documented evidence, that for young pitchers especially, letting them to pitch more than 110-120 pitches can cause undue strain on the arm and eventually a major injury.

    This, of course, has a lot to do with the conditioning mentality of the team. In most cases the young pitcher has never pitched more than 120 innings in a season before reaching the majors.

    “The Joba Rules” are a horrible, overmanaged example of this.

    Also, the situation in which the pitches happened matters. Multiple high-stress innings (more than 20 pitches) will probably lead to problems more quickly than 8 innings of 12-18 pitches apiece.

    Pitchers are an asset and they should protect them, but it shouldn’t be based on a magic number of 100. Each game situation should dictate the possible abusive stress a pitcher incurs. Other times a pinch hitter is needed at that time.

    For the Happ situation, those were one of the ugliest 5 shutout innings I’ve seen (6 BB, 0 K). He was laboring and needed to be removed. It was later revealed he was laboring because of a forearm strain.

    That’s all for now.

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