100 pitch count....good or bad?

On Monday, ESPN's baseball page had this 3 part series of articles on the magic number of 100 pitches being some sort of end point for starting pitchers in today's game. It's a long look at how things got to that point and how it might change in the future. Discusses the saber side of things and the scouting side and gets perspective from a lot of different people. There was a lot of interesting stuff in there I thought and was a good read. I figured this would make for a good discussion, and am kinda surprised this hasn't been posted about yet on here. Guess the Garko Mania was just too big!

Anyway here is links to the different articles and a few quotes I found to be interesting....the Kirkjian article is particularly long but has the most information and quotes. Crasnick's pertains to past player comments like from Tom Seaver and Don Sutton and the 3rd one is just a rundown of cautionary tales.

La Russa added, "Young guys today rely on stuff. They throw 100 pitches; they don't pitch 100 pitches. They are max effort on every pitch. And in the minor leagues, they're doing whatever they can to get from Double-A to Triple-A, so the stress level is higher. They're getting to the big leagues younger, there is maximum pressure to perform, and because of that, they are letting it fly. That's how young pitchers develop arm injuries and fatigue. In the old days, pitchers spent time in D ball, C ball; they threw 500-600 innings, sometimes 700-800, on lower levels. There was no carrot out there like there is now to move up. Today's young pitchers are firing 85-90 pitches, fatigue sets in, and the next 15-20 they throw, they're still firing. A veteran at 70 pitches might have all kinds of stuff left. Clubs that have a lot of young pitchers are leery of pushing them because they know it's smart not to push them because they are throwing, not pitching."

We are now obsessed with pitch counts. "It's more mental than physical," said one NL manager. "I have pitchers who come up to me all the time when they come off the mound and ask, 'Is that it?' And I say, 'Yeah, that's it,' because I know they don't want to pitch anymore."


"We have conditioned our pitchers to go 100," Black said. "It didn't used to be that way. When I came up [1981], we pitched until we were ineffective. We would go 125, 130 pitches all the time. Now it's 100. We have pitch limits in Little League, in high school. We are so cautious of their talent, we are not encouraging them to go on. Today's athlete is bigger, stronger and faster than ever. They should be able to do more, but we don't let them."

Hershiser made his major league debut in 1983. "I could rest at certain times during the game: two outs, no one on, seventh hitter up in the National League," he said. "I didn't want to show all my bullets at that time, so I'd throw a BP sinker away and get a ground out. If the guy got a hit, no big deal; you had the eighth and ninth hitters up. But you can't do that today with these lineups. You can't throw only 80 percent of what you have. You can't get by with a get-me-over curveball. What used to not be a big deal is now a huge deal."

High-intensity pitches are often high-stress pitches. Teams all across the major leagues don't just count pitches; they count the number of pitches a pitcher makes under duress. "The philosophy in our organization is, 'How did you get there?"' said Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. "When we have a 25-to-35-pitch inning, that's highly stressful for a pitcher. Our guys are very conscious of that. When you're in a highly stressful situation -- runner at second base, none out -- one pitch becomes a pitch and a half. We pay attention to that."
Don Sutton, who won 324 games over 23 seasons and never spent a day on the disabled list, calls the quality start a "ridiculous and absurd" statistic that rewards a 4.50 ERA. Sutton favors a new definition, with six innings and two runs or seven innings and three runs as the barometer for quality.

He also views the 100-pitch barrier as an "unsubstantiated, artificial limit" that conditions pitchers to feel fatigued based on a predetermined barrier established by others.

"We're teaching it in Class A ball," Sutton said. "We're telling kids we're not going to let them pitch, we're not going to extend them, and we're not going to see what they're capable of. We're encouraging mediocrity and being very successful at it.

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