Pitch Counts

My son, who is 13, threw his first complete game last weekend. his final line was; 6 inn., 2 er, 9 k’s, 3 bb, 5 hits.

Here’s the problem, if it is a problem. In the game he threw 92 pitches. This was his only outing for the weekend. He mostly threw FB(2 and 4 seam) and change up(circle), with 7-8 curve balls mixed in.

He showed no fatigue, was able to keep the ball down in the zone, and actually seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. His velocity never dropped off and in the 5th and 6th innings threw harder than the first 4.

Is this a problem for a 13 year old to throw 92 pitches in an outing? If so what is your recommended pitch counts.

I should also note that the day after, he only had slight tightness in his shoulder and bicep, no pain. He rested two days after the game, then threw a light session on the 3rd day with no pain or tightness.

I look forward to your opinions.

Three walks…nine strikeouts…five hits…gave up two earned runs…No, I wouldn’t call it a problem. A pitcher who strikes out a lot of batters will also have quite a few batters get on base against him, because he will give up some hits and, yes, maybe a run or two. But your kid pitched strong, with no fatigue, and the slight tightness in his arm was just that, and it went away. Also, it was his only start of the week. I know that some people will say that he should not have pitched as many as six innings, blah blah blah—but others, such as yours truly, will say that even at age 13 some pitchers display strength and endurance and that a six-inning complete game is perfectly all right.
I’m speaking from the point of view of a major leaguer, because I had a pitching coach in my teens who was just that—an active major-league pitcher who was also an extra pitching coach for a great team—and what I learned from him was the major-league way. He firmly believed that each pitcher has a natural motion, and he would work with said pitcher to help him (or her, as was the case with me) make the most of it. So I don’t care if others might disagree with me, because that was the way things were; I was a natural, true sidearmer who had a consistent release point and used the crossfire extensively, and I wasn’t fast but I made up for it with a good arsenal of breaking pitches and the control and command to go along with them. I was both a strikeout pitcher and one who could pitch to contact (or, as my coach said, “Get the ball over the plate and make them hit it”), and I seldom threw more than 85 pitches over a nine-inning span.
Maybe, as your kid gets a little older and more experienced, he can cut down on the number of pitches he throws over a six-inning span…and a seven-inning span…but I’d say he’s doing okay and not to worry about it. 8)

Thanks Zita.

His pitching coach coaches the same way. He has a natural 3/4 arm slot and continues to develop as a pitcher using his arm slot to his advantage.

He recently learned to pitch with a slight shoulder tilt. Without sacrificing location his FB velocity went from upper 60s to low 70s. His curve is also thrown from this slot giving it more of a slurve action while maintaining curve ball rotation

Regarding the pitch count, I believe 92 is within the limit Little League sets for their majors pitchers which are no older than 12 or 13. On the other hand, 92 is possibly above the limit ASMI/USA Baseball would recommend.

Now, pitch count is only one determining factor in whether a pitcher should be removed from the mound. His ability to maintain good mechanics is the other. The sports medicine folks are now claiming that pitching while fatigued is the #2 cause of injuries behing overuse.

If your son was able to maintain good mechanics throughout those 92 pitches, then he is probably ok assuming he was properly conditioned to begin with.

Roger,
Thanks.
Yes, he maintained his mechanics throughout the outing. His conditioning is spot on.

He actually took Aug. and Sept. off. Began conditioning and light throwing in Oct. He progressed through Nov. to 80 - 100% in Dec. and Jan. and didn’t throw a live session until late Jan. For conditioning, he worked with a strength coach learning proper form for lifting, running and lots of pliometric training, concentrating on core strength.

He really seemed to respond to this training and got alot stronger and increased his endurance.

I should note that his dream/desire is to pitch for a particular D1 school. He is dedicated to this goal and needs no pushing from me. My worry was that he would burn out but the kid eats and sleeps baseball. He does have some distractions away from baseball, so maybe my worry is unwarranted.

No problem at all. I had an old teammate who, when he was eleven, throw 96 pitches with a broken bersa in his knee. The curveballs would be a problem if he was younger but since he is 13 it should be safe, especially only throwing 7 or 8 of them.

Stick with your current plan. It’s working… As Roger adeptly pointed out, pitching while fatigued is what you want to avoid. Regarding the pitch counts…I don’t like them for several reasons but one of them is that you can’t apply one rule to the vastly different types of pitchers that exist in one program like Little League or USA Baseball and maximize each pitcher’s potential. It’s kinda like making sure everybody sets their cruise control to 55 mph so that nobody exceeds the 70 mph speed limit. It works but it isn’t very efficient because you are going to arrive late when you could have gone at least 69 mph safely. Granted that’s a strange analogy but it works for me.

You, as his father, are very capable of evaluating your son’s fatigue level. You can tell if he’s losing velocity, throwing consistently high, displaying mannerisms or posture changes that tip off that he’s wearing thin. It’ s not rocket science…the pitch count is meant to keep coaches with the wrong type of motive from overusing or abusing your son. You can teach your son how to avoid that if you just use some creative thinking.

My opinion, only. For what it’s worth.

My son is also 13 (and has a 3/4 delivery) and he threw his first complete game this past fall - 7 innings and 93 pitches - as a 12 year old. We thought it was a fluke until he turned around and did the same thing the next week - this time with 88 pitches. He’s been pitching since he was nine, but prior to those games, he had never made it past the 5th inning, and usually never made it through the 4th.

This year, he’s made 8 starts and has finished 5 of those games - and in one of the others he pitched 7 innings, but we were still tied at the end of regulation. Unlike your son, he doesn’t strike out a ton of kids (27 strikeouts through 47.33 innings), but he is very efficient, averaging 13.6 pitches per inning (only 23 walks).

We watch our pitchers very closely for signs of fatigue, and just as was described earlier, he seems to get stronger in the later innings. As a coach, I love it when he pitches because I know we will have a chance to win. But as a parent, I am his safety advocate, and I have no problem saying “no” to any over use. When he throws a complete game on the first day of a tournament, he’s done for the weekend. Yeah, he could possible come back on Sunday and pitch a few more innings, but no game at this age is worth it.

If your kid is pitching well, looks good, and is maintaining his mechanics, a complete game should be no problem.