Minor (8-11) Pitching Rotation Strategy


#1

Need to see if this is sound advice. I was an assistant coach last year and I’ve decided to take a team myself this year as a manager. I pitched in HS and College and I work with my pitchers every practice. Our division is 11-8 kid pitch. We drafted a very mature and strong team with 4 ‘starters’ and 2 -4 bullpen pitchers. My goal is to get the 2-4 bullpen pitchers into starter mode while keeping my starters fresh. We play our games on Thursdays and Saturdays so 1 day of rest between for half our games and the other half with 5 days rest.

Given the above, what are the thoughts about keep all pitchers under 35 pitches so they can pitch with 1 day rest for those Thursday - Saturday games vs. maxing out (assuming in control) on Saturdays. I was thinking 1 inning per ace but I definitely want to make the investment in my 2-4 bullpen pitchers as the ROI is extreme if we hit gold in developing 1-2 into starters.

Obviously if any kid starts getting shell shocked or just doesn’t have it, then the pitch count is irrelevant and we move up another ‘starter’ into that spot which would then give another chance for us to develop our bullpen pitchers. Many other coaches in my league will assign pitchers to pitch against a certain team and will max them out of pitches no matter how they are throwing, which I feel is completely the wrong approach. I’d prefer fresh arms especially at the beginning of the season with low pitch counts so if we get into a jam, anyone can pitch.

Sorry about the long winded post but interested in what people have to say.


#2

I assume the league rule is >35 pitches=1 day of required rest. 34 or fewer pitches on Thursday preserves the pitcher for Saturday. Probably not the best plan to pitch an 8-11 year old with one day of rest, regardless of the number of pitches. Also, 7-8 arms is a luxury on an 8-11 team. Usually you are looking at 3 arms–one of which is a bit shaky.

My questions not answered by your post would be: What is the maximum pitches and/or innings allowed per outing or per week in this league? Also, are these games against a 2hr clock or do you complete the full six innings with regularity?

Without knowing those answers, I’d try to use two starters every game day and fill in with your developmental pitchers. Able and Baker start on Thursdays while Charles and David pitch Saturdays. If you want to do more matching up pitchers and opponents, you certainly can because you have 4 days off between cycles. I would avoid using all 4 starters for an inning each on Thursday and Saturday. They will be warming up for two games, pitching innings, and tossing between innings. They will throw more total pitches than if you exhausted their pitch count on a single day.

Relievers Ricky, Ronnie, Robbie, and Randy pitch as needed to the tune of 1 inning each. Don’t let them throw more than 25 pitches in an inning and don’t start them for second inning if you plan to use the same reliever again on Saturday.

The key will be remaining flexible. For example Able gets the ball to start on Thursday with Ricky the first reliever planned for the 3rd or 4th inning in a perfect world. If Ricky does well and goes 2 innings, you can close with Baker. If Ricky struggles or goes long on pitches, you bring in Ronnie then close in the 5th or 6th with Baker.
If you games rarely go 6 but generally go 4-5 innings, you may want to run Baker after Able then use the relievers for the “if necessary” innings.

Another key factor is how many catchers do you have? Will you need to have any of your “pitchers” behind the dish? I’d limit the number of pitches on a Thursday to under 25 if the kid is going to catch any innings for you on a Saturday.

Really, with so many arms, you have unlimited options. I bet that once you start practicing, the number of arms you really have ends up being less than what you think right now.


#3

Thanks for the reply.

Rule(s)
1-20 pitches: 0 Calendar Day Rest
21-35 pitches: 1 Calendar Day Rest
36-50 pitches: 2 Calendar Day’s Rest
51-65 pitches: 3 Calendar Day’s Rest
66-Max: 4 Calendar Day’s rest

Max pitches is aged based where:
11-12: 85 pitches
9-10: 75 pitches
7-8: 50 pitches

My ‘starters’ are all 9-10 so again a luxury we could go multiple innings. We are time boxed at 1 hour 45 minutes to start a new inning. So if we are at 1 hour 50 minutes we play out the inning and stop and do not start a new inning. Our ‘open’ inning is the 4th and 60% of the time last year we made it to the open inning before the hour and 45 minute mark. 5 run rule / 3 outs every inning except the open inning.

Amazingly enough I have 1 pitcher who also catches but he would be in that developmental category and my ‘starters’ are SS, 3rd and CF when not pitching so I’m pretty fortunate.

We had our first scrimmage last night, my #1 gave up 3 runs in the first and had 35 pitches. My #2 was lights out with 10 pitches 0 walks and 3 k, #3 21 pitches 0 runs 3 walks, 2ks. #4 was 17 pitches 1 walk 0 runs 1k. Needless to say we won 9-3 which was why I am considering going to a low pitch count vs. traditional max out.


#4

As long as you continue to be observant of the C and SS, it seems like you are paying close attention to the right things. I’d still rather see a pitcher throw 50 pitches in one outing than 40 across two outings with a day in between–based upon the number of warmup throws required for two appearances instead of just one.