There have been a lot of questions recently around the user of a pitch count on a pitcher in the Major Leagues. The Rangers have been under scrutiny by media and some fans for allowing Yu Darvish to have pitch counts into the 120’s. It seems odd to think a pitcher in the Major Leagues would have to worry about pitch counts. Once you’re in the pros, you should want to pitch till your arm is exhausted.
That may sound harsh, but if you look back into the history of baseball, there were no such things as pitch counts before the late 80’s. Some of the greatest pitchers of all time would throw well over 100 pitches and be able to do the same thing their very next start.
But as baseball has evolved and become more specialized, pitch counts were starting to be used to “save” a guys arm and possibly extend his career. In theory that sounds good, in reality, it has ruined some guys from reaching their full potential.
There is a place for pitch counts, and I believe the best place for them is to be used in Little League through college. If a player has played baseball through college and joins the minor leagues in his 20’s, then it is time to start easing him off the pitch count. It can be gradual to let his arm build up to the use. But to protect young kids, the pitch count is a necessary evil.
In my opinion, once a player reaches AA baseball in the Minor Leagues, he should throw until he has given everything he has, or it is apparent he just doesn’t have the right stuff that day. Managers seem more reluctant to try to push that extra little bit out of their starting pitcher, maybe it’s because they have strict instructions from the front office, and maybe the manager is just scared.
Nobody really knows what the reason is, but most managers now seem to pull a pitcher real quick when he gets at or exceeds 100 pitches. But Yu Darvish has thrown that out the window and pitched good every time and has gone over 120 pitches in almost all of his starts. Media and fans criticize Ron Washington for letting him go further, but I applaud it. There needs to be more of that push farther mentality in pitching. Fans will enjoy it and it will make the game better.
Fans flock to the games to see the starting pitchers, not some bullpen arm that nobody heard of until two weeks ago.