Pitch Count? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Pitch Count

By Dave Ervin

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As long as Yu Darvish can grow arms out of his head, he should be able to throw as many pitches as he wants

One Hundred. That’s the magic number across the major leagues when it comes to pitch count. For the last fifteen years or so, managers, pitching coaches, agents and anyone else with a stake in the health and career longevity of a major league pitcher gets a little antsy when said pitcher moves past that 100 pitch mark.

Try and tell that to Yu Darvish.

 

Thursday night, Darvish threw 130 pitches over 8 innings – the second most pitches thrown by anyone this year and the most Darvish has ever thrown in the majors. This is the second time in three games and the third time this year he has thrown over 120. What made his pitch count on Thursday especially odd was the fact that he exited the sixth inning with a six run lead having already eclipsed 100 pitches. Ron Washington elected to keep him in the game for not one, but two more innings despite the big lead.

I’m not sure what side of this issue I fall on. I think it’s ridiculous to have a standard number of pitches that any and all major league pitchers should adhere to in order to stay healthy. Some pitchers simply have more stamina, more arm strength, etc.  But remember when Johan Santana threw 137 in his no-hitter last year? He hasn’t  been the same since. So there should be a cutoff, but shouldn’t it be handled on a pitcher-by-pitcher basis? Some cars need to be demolished after 100,000 miles, others last three times that.

Yu regularly threw 120 plus pitches in Japan and has (so far) shown no ill effects or signs of wear. Will it catch up with him as he enters his 30s? Perhaps, but can the Rangers afford to worry about how their ace will hold up three or four years from now? Texas is in win-now mode, and that helps dictate things like pitch count.

In the end we may not know whether pushing Yu into such high pitch counts is a good move or not until we see how long his career lasts. It’s clear that Ron Washington thinks the guy is a freak, and that pitch counts don’t apply to him the way they might to other pitchers. For now, I can’t say I completely disagree.

O-Gone…D’oh! 

So Alexi Ogando joins the list of injured Rangers pitchers. Before he was sent to the 15 day DL earlier this week, Ogando had been more than solid, posting a 4-2 record with an ERA right at 3. The group of injured Rangers starters could be the starting five for any number of playoff teams: Harrison, Lewis, Ogando, Feliz, Perez.

For now the rotation must be held up by a group of youngsters and minor-leaguers. Josh Lindbloom is supposed to take over Ogando’s spot in the rotation, while Cory Burns will be called up in the short term. They will join Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm in a staff currently anchored by Yu Darvish and Derek Holland. While Darvish and Holland have been great, another injury to a pitcher could cripple this team.

Hm, Wash, maybe 130 pitches for Yu wasn’t that great of an idea after all.

 

The Mitch is Back

I don’t know about you, fellow Ranger fan, but I’m pumped about seeing Mitch Moreland turn into such a beast. Two weeks ago his average was well below the Mendoza line, now it sits right at .300. His hits have been big, loud and important, most recently blasting a two-run double against Justin Verlander on Thursday night to give the Rangers a two run lead they would not relinquish.

Mitch has also been making more athletic plays at first base. He attributes much of his turnaround to an off-season regiment that saw him drop over 20 pounds and muscle up a little. With former Rangers Chris Davis and Mike Napoli lighting up the world in new cities, it’s nice to see our current first baseman holding his own.

 Okay, I’m right at 700 words. I better stop so I have enough left in the tank for next week.

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Posted on May 18, 2013, in 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I could not help noticing throughout your article Dave that this issue of the pitch count should be seen from an individual perspective. Prior to the 1980’s starters went until they either were ineffective, or simply got tired. But as agents became concerned about their meal ticket star clients, and the organizations the longevity of the pitchers, pitching counts in the name of saving an arm gradually became the norm. Some veteran pitchers of the past don’t subscribe to the idea though, notably here, one is Nolan Ryan of the Ranger brass. You know my thoughts on the issue after what happened with the Nationals and their ace last year, worry about winning now while you have the talent, let next year take care of itself. But mostly I think back to Cy Young and his success and oh the innings he pitched! Great article Dave, damn those 700 words.

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