Pitch Counts

My problem with pitch counts is that you can’t stick a number out there and allow it to apply to everyone, it’s too much like a lot of the throwing programs out there. Too many variables in the equation.

  1. The most important is not how many total pitches a kid throws but how much does he throw in between outings? Is he prepared? 65 may seem like a much bigger number to a kid that isn’t preparing himself in between starts. While on the other side, 100 may not seem like much to a kid that gets after it with his throwing program.

  2. Does he play multiple positions before pitching? After?

  3. How did he get to that number?

  4. How good is his offense? A bad offense doesn’t allow for much rest and only raises the intensity level. Big difference in resting 3 minutes versus resting 6 minutes or more with a good offense.

  5. What’s the weather conditions?

  6. How many days rest?

You cannot throw a number at the wall and hope it sticks. That’s my issue with the pitching studies and research. It’s all about how many innings pitched, pitches thrown, pitch, pitch, pitch. I have never seen a study that read “Group A routinely threw 5 days per week while Group B did not throw at all.” Show me that study.

For the last 6 years, our pitch count was non-existent. We use a radar gun and after a kid falls below a certain percentage of velocity we know he is getting tired and base our decision on that.

Don’t get me wrong, I guess it’s better to have a number to keep some coaches from pitching kids everyday and then telling them to take it easy between the days he pitches.

I agree my middle school team coachs do the same thing sometimes our pitchers pitch the whole game (5 innings)

First, all Major League teams and orthopaedic doctors think pitch counts are important and even critical, so I’ll take their word for it over the word of an anonymous Internet commenter who asks questions but has no answers.

Second, your logic is flawed. That there are other variables in the equation besides pitch counts does not mean that the pitch count variable is less significant. After all, there are other variables in the equation besides diet, but that doesn’t make diet a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides arm slot, but that doesn’t make arm slot a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides velocity, but that doesn’t make velocity a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides genes, but that doesn’t make genes a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides stride, but that doesn’t make stride a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides days of rest, but that doesn’t make days of rest a non-variable; there are other variables in the equation besides months of rest, but that doesn’t make months of rest a non-variable. In short, when multiple variables are in play, a particular variable is not diminished by the mere presence of the other variables.

As for a study showing the clear connection between pitching overuse and pitching injuries, here’s one, by actual doctors: www.bit.ly/q5meXn

south paw made some great points, and I support them all. But I would like to add to what he said.

The main thing that really riles me up when people like Baseballthinktank.com start pontificating about pitch counts, is when they completely mischaracterize them. PCs aren’t there as a hard and fast absolute to keep some wannabe Tony LaRussa from showing his great skill at manipulating his players. For the younger ages, they’re guidelines that stop overuse/abuse issues because there’s no way every coach below HS has the understanding an capacity to not put players in harm’s way. So for those ages, all they are is a way to insure minimal protection for children.

Once a player gets to HS, he’s totally dependent on his coach’s ability to keep him as safe as possible, and in general, most coaches at the HS level and beyond grasp the concept that pitchers don’t do as well when they’re fatigued, and are more prone to injury when they’re fatigued. So while anyone could come up with a much more accurate way than flat pitch counts, it really isn’t necessary. The object isn’t to stop all injures, its only to stop those that happen for stupid reasons.

Personally, I think its pretty presumptuous to say what are the most important variables in a pitcher’s outing, especial since they’re all based on the number of pitches thrown.

Any pitching study that has as its base innings pitched is a flawed study for obvious reasons. The reason you’ve never seen a study like the one you want to see, is because its impossible to find players who could meet the conditions.

So what do you do with pitchers who’s velocity doesn’t drop? Keep throwing them until their arm falls off? And how about pitchers who are getting pounded or can’t find the strike zone? Seems pretty silly to leave a pitcher out there until their velocity drops.

You must be coaching at the HS level or above, because most organized ball below that has pitch or inning limits. But I wonder what you do when a kid reaches those limits in the rules. Do you just ignore them, or are you saying you never leave a pitcher in beyond them?

If that’s how you really feel, why on earth take a stance that its such a problem?

I dont agree but hard not to feel the passion you guys share for pitch counts. Scorekeeper, I can find those articles and studies everywhere I look.
I just don’t agree. You cannot tell me that one number works for everyone. That’s the same A’s the throwing programs that tell me never to go past x amount of feet. What one guy considers long another guy considers short. What about the Japanese, Korean, Dominican kids? How are they even able to pick up a ball based on your argument? If anything it shows that it’s possible.

What if a kid throws 45 pitches in an inning? Do you send him out the next inning because he hasn’t thrown his allotment? Is that tougher than throwing 100 over 6? What if it’s 30 degrees outside, is the pitch count the same? Why do pitchers in spring grainy or coming off rehab have pitch counts? Because their arm isn’t prepared. So how can you argue that pitch counts are the same for everyone???

Btw, the radar gun comment was pretty good and you made a really good point towards my argument. Your right, I wouldn’t take a kid out if his velocity hadn’t dropped, he obviously isn’t tired. When is one of the prime factors in getting hurt? Fatigue??? So based on that theory he isn’t tired until he reaches his pitch count, fine up until then according to you guys.

The radar gun is used to measure and is not performance based. No way you can convince me that a guy that prepares by throwing is the same A’s the guy who pitches.

If you want to show me a study, find me one like the one I requested and maybe then you could change my mind.

Again, I appreciate your opinion and passion

How could you not find kids that meet those conditions for a study?

Scorekeeper just read your study and first thing jumps out at me is fatigue being mentioned by an actual doctor. How do you measure fatigue with a kid with inconsistent release point meaning he commonly throws with a bit of wildness. The kid is a super competitor and anytime you ask him how he feels the answer is “great”. Just go by the pitch count? How do you minimize fatigue? Maybe prepare him by having a structured throwing program, notice I didn’t say pitching, throwing. My entire argument is to prepare the arm to pitch by throwing. A kid that does not throw routinely between outing does not meet the same criteria A’s one that does throw.

Typing this from my phone so forgive me fro choppy sentences.

I agree there are other variables but I don’t think anyone is throwing out a number to apply to everyone. At a minimum, there are age-specific numbers. But I know that’s not really what you meant.

Now you’re getting into dangerous water. How do you judge preparedness? How do you know that the kid who “gets after it” can throw more than the kid who doesn’t? How much more? Does “preparedness” equate to skeletal maturity? Making the decision to let a kid have a higher pitch count may not result in any problems while he is under your watch. But what about down the road when the kid is under the watch of someone else? I would guess a lot of problems happen this way and it makes assessing the causes of such problems more difficult.

[quote]2. Does he play multiple positions before pitching? After?

  1. How did he get to that number?

  2. How good is his offense? A bad offense doesn’t allow for much rest and only raises the intensity level. Big difference in resting 3 minutes versus resting 6 minutes or more with a good offense.

  3. What’s the weather conditions?

  4. How many days rest?

You cannot throw a number at the wall and hope it sticks. That’s my issue with the pitching studies and research. It’s all about how many innings pitched, pitches thrown, pitch, pitch, pitch. I have never seen a study that read “Group A routinely threw 5 days per week while Group B did not throw at all.” Show me that study.[/quote]
The problem with research and studies related to pitchers is that you just can’t perform true double-blind studies. To do so would be to jeopardize one of the groups in some way.

Seems strange that you point out that there are multiple variables yet you resort to using just one.

As you and others have pointed out, it is better than nothing - especially at the lower youth levels.

[quote=“Baseballthinktank.com”]Scorekeeper just read your study and first thing jumps out at me is fatigue being mentioned by an actual doctor. How do you measure fatigue with a kid with inconsistent release point meaning he commonly throws with a bit of wildness. The kid is a super competitor and anytime you ask him how he feels the answer is “great”. Just go by the pitch count? How do you minimize fatigue? Maybe prepare him by having a structured throwing program, notice I didn’t say pitching, throwing. My entire argument is to prepare the arm to pitch by throwing. A kid that does not throw routinely between outing does not meet the same criteria A’s one that does throw.

Typing this from my phone so forgive me fro choppy sentences.[/quote]
Agree with your point about throwing to condition and prepare to pitch. It makes intuitive sense.

Regarding fatigue, there are indicators you can look for if you’ve worked with your pitchers long enough to “know” them. Things I look for include slower tempo down the hill, shorter stride, glove control getting sloppy, posture becoming unstable, release point pulling back, loss of control, and drop in velocity.

All i will add to this discussion is the game of Nolan Ryan and Luis Tiant. 15 innings long. Ryan threw 244 pitches and Tiant 189. Now i know these players were at the MLB level so they were “more developed” etc. But if a Coach today let his pitcher go that long, he would be fired on the spot.

That’s frightening.

So if in a game a kid throws 80 pitches at 70mph into the wind and the next day in another game he throws 80 additional pitches, this time with the wind at his back, also at 70 mph, this is all OK because your radar gun told you he didn’t lose velocity? Wow.

Remember, you can’t add the wind in as a variable because you yourself dismissed pitch counts on the basis of there being other variables - so if the wind is added in as a variable then your radar gun method must be dismissed too, right?

:lol:

[quote=“Baseballthinktank.com”]I dont agree but hard not to feel the passion you guys share for pitch counts. Scorekeeper, I can find those articles and studies everywhere I look.
I just don’t agree. You cannot tell me that one number works for everyone. That’s the same A’s the throwing programs that tell me never to go past x amount of feet. What one guy considers long another guy considers short. What about the Japanese, Korean, Dominican kids? How are they even able to pick up a ball based on your argument? If anything it shows that it’s possible. [/quote]

Where you make your mistake is, no one has said one number works for everyone. All that’s said is, there’s ample proof that ”X” is a reasonable number to limit pitchers to throwing, and there’s no good reason to go beyond it. What’s being gained by allowing Johnny to throw X+Y pitches, even if he won’t be in any more potential harm? What we’re talking about isn’t professional ball where guys get paid to put their health on the line, and there is tremendous medical advice and help available if something does go wrong. We’re talking about development.

Assume there’s gonna be 140 pitches in a game. Why not spread those pitches out equally between 2 pitchers, rather than one pitcher throwing 120 and the other 20? What sense does it make to give more time to the kid who needs it the least, unless of course it isn’t about development at all, but rather winning at whatever the cost. In my experience, its because folks like yourself aren’t as capable at development as they claim, and I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather to state in no uincertain terms how difficult it is to develop pitchers.

As for the kid throwing 45 pitches in an inning, it wouldn’t happen on my watch because I’d have no problem putting someone else in at possibly 25 or 30.

It seems you’re hung up on the temperature as factor. It certainly is a factor, but not nearly as important as if its raining. You make it out to be that if perhaps its 120, under pitch limits coaches would allow the pitchers to keep throwing until they reached the limit, and that’s patently absurd. Why would a coach be more inclined to do that?

Again, you’re misconstruing having pitch counts as limits is the same thing as saying everyone’s personal limits are the same. No one I know has ever said that, and certainly I haven’t.

And that’s why pitch counts have become what they have. You’re staking a players health on the fact that you can’t possibly be wrong in assuming a fatigued player can’t throw at the same velocity as a rested one. You don’t care if a pitcher’s throwing the ball all over the place, he’s complaining about arm pain, or anything else that might indicate fatigue. You’re putting all your eggs into one basket.

I don’t even know what that means.

I wouldn’t waste my time looking because you’d find some way to never accept it.

I realize that there are still those who don’t believe pitch counts are a good limit, no matter what their use, but here’s something you should consider. Back as little as 10 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to see 8-12 YOs throwing 100-150 pitches in a game, a couple times a week, and stories could be easily found about HS and College pitchers throwing 200 or more pitches in a game.

I’m sure things like that still happen someplace, but not nearly to the degree they once did. And how has that hurt the game. Many many people used your arguments to condemn LLI when they even talked about changing from IPs to pitch counts as limits, and predicted the demise of LLI and youth baseball in general. But what happened? How was the game hurt, if at all?

The bottom line here, is that a great change in attitudes and understanding has taken place, where folks like yourself were in the majority, but are now thankfully in the minority.

I haven’t got a clue what study you’re talking about. However, I’m not at all surprised that any doctor would mention fatigue.

If you only use control as a fatigue indicator, you’re a lousy coach, and I can’t think of many kids who wouldn’t answer the same way, even if they couldn’t lift their arm. Baseball has made it seem un-masculine or somehow a failure for a pitcher to admit his true condition, plus if he has any competitive spirit at all, even if he’s completely burnt out, he’s going to believe he can still get that next guy if he’s only allowed to try.

Going by the pitch count will only be erring on the side of caution.

That’s a great argument and one that should be incorporated into every program by every coach! But here’s the problem. It won’t be! And since it won’t be, what will happen to those kids who haven’t been in a program like that?

Here is a post from another tread on fatigue that is more than likely the standard for where HS coaches heads are, this is a kid who has had some fatigue issues and pain recently:

So here is a coach making it clear it’s un-masculine to be fatigued or not fully good to go.

I have to admit that I didn’t have the stones to say that, even though its how I felt. But in order to be honest to myself, I have to give you props for having the courage to do it. :wink:

[quote]So if in a game a kid throws 80 pitches at 70mph into the wind and the next day in another game he throws 80 additional pitches, this time with the wind at his back, also at 70 mph, this is all OK because your radar gun told you he didn’t lose velocity? Wow.

Remember, you can’t add the wind in as a variable because you yourself dismissed pitch counts on the basis of there being other variables - so if the wind is added in as a variable then your radar gun method must be dismissed too, right?[/quote]

Ya know, I’ve come across a few folks who believe with all their heart that a gun is the best way to detect a pitcher’s fatigue, but yet I’ve watched thousands of MLB games where the starter never loses anything, and in fact might gain velocity. Also, I’ve watched scouts gun many players over the last decade, and even though knowing the boys very well and being able to detect fatigue in them, more often than not, that gun tells a different story.

So no matter how much some may believe it’s the best way to detect fatigue, all I can say is, if I were choosing a team manager and he believed that, he’d never have a job in my organization.

And if you think about it, its pretty ridiculous as well. Most pitchers have 2 different FBs they throw, and there is almost always a 3-6 MPH difference between them. So if a pitcher starts out throwing 4 seamers, then suddenly switched to 2’s, or if he does what many pitchers do, throw the FB with a different intensity, out will come some clod with the hook because his velocity dropped. :wink:

I have to admit that I didn’t have the stones to say that, even though its how I felt. But in order to be honest to myself, I have to give you props for having the courage to do it. :wink:

[quote]So if in a game a kid throws 80 pitches at 70mph into the wind and the next day in another game he throws 80 additional pitches, this time with the wind at his back, also at 70 mph, this is all OK because your radar gun told you he didn’t lose velocity? Wow.

Remember, you can’t add the wind in as a variable because you yourself dismissed pitch counts on the basis of there being other variables - so if the wind is added in as a variable then your radar gun method must be dismissed too, right?[/quote]

Ya know, I’ve come across a few folks who believe with all their heart that a gun is the best way to detect a pitcher’s fatigue, but yet I’ve watched thousands of MLB games where the starter never loses anything, and in fact might gain velocity. Also, I’ve watched scouts gun many players over the last decade, and even though knowing the boys very well and being able to detect fatigue in them, more often than not, that gun tells a different story.

So no matter how much some may believe it’s the best way to detect fatigue, all I can say is, if I were choosing a team manager and he believed that, he’d never have a job in my organization.

And if you think about it, its pretty ridiculous as well. Most pitchers have 2 different FBs they throw, and there is almost always a 3-6 MPH difference between them. So if a pitcher starts out throwing 4 seamers, then suddenly switched to 2’s, or if he does what many pitchers do, throw the FB with a different intensity, out will come some clod with the hook because his velocity dropped. ;)[/quote]

Wow, if you have kids at younger ages that understand the importance of changing speeds on the fastball then they obviously have a plan in between starts. Pitch development is a big part of the routine. I have never found that pitchers at any level could do that by just showing up when it’s their time to pitch. That’s a pitcher that takes pride in his craft and has a feel!! Congrats to you if your staff is comprised of arms like that. I have been coaching for many years and have had only a handful of arms that were capable of doing that consistently. :shock:

That’s frightening.

So if in a game a kid throws 80 pitches at 70mph into the wind and the next day in another game he throws 80 additional pitches, this time with the wind at his back, also at 70 mph, this is all OK because your radar gun told you he didn’t lose velocity? Wow.

Remember, you can’t add the wind in as a variable because you yourself dismissed pitch counts on the basis of there being other variables - so if the wind is added in as a variable then your radar gun method must be dismissed too, right?

:lol:[/quote]

Would throwing on back to back days be part of a routine in between starts??? Is that preparing a kid to pitch? I never mentioned anything about back/back days pitching. Pitching is a problem when a throwing routine is not established between starts. My entire argument is that kids have to be prepared to pitch, it has nothing to do with pitching on back to back days. In fact its the opposite. Prepare a kid by throwing, not pitching.

I don’t think you understand where you’ve posted the OP. Its under “General Pitching Advice”, which means what’s said here applies to everyone, unless specifically directed at only a specific segment. Since I only deal with HS ball and above now-a-days, its very common to have pitchers who understand the importance of changing speeds period, whether is on only one type of pitch or across the spectrum. Chances are they won’t be able to execute it very well or with consistency, but many of them will darn sure try. But it really doesn’t make any difference what age or group we talk about, the fact is, using a gun to judge fatigue simply isn’t a very good way to measure anything other than velocity.

Throwing or pitching on back to back days is a technique employed by many coaches. Generally, throwing is done with the main thought being to generate arm/body “throwing” strength. Pitching on the other hand is working on mechanical things that have to do with game plan, pitch execution, reading batters, location, timing, and consistency.

Assume there’s gonna be 140 pitches in a game. Why not spread those pitches out equally between 2 pitchers, rather than one pitcher throwing 120 and the other 20? What sense does it make to give more time to the kid who needs it the least, unless of course it isn’t about development at all, but rather winning at whatever the cost. In my experience, its because folks like yourself aren’t as capable at development as they claim, and I don’t mean that as an insult, but rather to state in no uincertain terms how difficult it is to develop pitchers.

I have found that development starts with the throwing routine in between starts. It’s a process and pitching live is only a part of the process. There has to be a time to fail and try new things. Would I stake the entire development process on his results on the mound and leave them at that? Absolutlely not. Based on his prior outing the routine would be designed to attack his weakness and formulate a plan for the next outing. Winning should never be a part of the equation when development is end goal, competing has to be taken out of the equation. However, our discussion hasn’t been about development. Based on what I infer from your comments is that the pitch count is the answer to negating overuse. My argument is that overuse occurs more times than not from being underprepared and more emphasis on the magic number versus how did he get to that number and what variables led to the number.

It seems you’re hung up on the temperature as factor. It certainly is a factor, but not nearly as important as if its raining. You make it out to be that if perhaps its 120, under pitch limits coaches would allow the pitchers to keep throwing until they reached the limit, and that’s patently absurd. Why would a coach be more inclined to do that?

Hung up, no. Why? Because it seems like that pitch counts seem to be the answer and that the Magic number is the cure all to our country’s arm problems. According to SouthPaw:

"“In short, when multiple variables are in play, a particular variable is not diminished by the mere presence of the other variables. “””

[color=blue]
And that’s why pitch counts have become what they have. You’re staking a players health on the fact that you can’t possibly be wrong in assuming a fatigued player can’t throw at the same velocity as a rested one. You don’t care if a pitcher’s throwing the ball all over the place, he’s complaining about arm pain, or anything else that might indicate fatigue. You’re putting all your eggs into one basket.[/color]

I don’t care about a player complaining of arm pain??? The gun becomes the decision maker when there are no noticeable differences in the kids performance and the gun tells me differently. I am not the coach that thinks every problem on the mound is a mechanical deficiency. Some release point problems does not mean the kid should alter his mechanics, maybe adjust reference points. Some coaches preach make mechanical adjustments while on the mound, I think more often its reference points, I guess I am the minority. The key is communication and when kids struggle to communicate, the gun doesn’t lie. Again, I haven’t had as many pitchers on my staff that are able to implement speed changes and variations of the fastball as you mentioned with “most” pitchers. So therefore, without complaints or results, I leave the decision to measurable feedback.

Big difference in a kid who “prepares” to pitch by showing up at the park and pitching versus the pitcher who prepares to pitch by establishing a routine in between outings.

I wouldn’t waste my time looking because you’d find some way to never accept it.

Try me.

[color=blue]The bottom line here, is that a great change in attitudes and understanding has taken place, where folks like yourself were in the majority, but are now thankfully in the minority.[/quote]

[/color]

It comes as no surprise that Nolan Ryan is leading the charge to do away with pitch counts. Ryan has outlawed the use of the pitch count in determining how long a pitcher stays in the game throughout the Rangers organization in regards to starting pitchers. He has, however, introduced a year-round fitness program for the starting pitchers in order to “establish a foundation” for them.

Ryan said he “had to develop stamina because my intent was to pitch a lot of innings” and that he wants his pitchers to do the same. He is trying to change the culture in the organization and has passed on this message to pitching coach Mike Maddux. Says Maddux:

“You don’t need a pitch count to know when your day is done. The hitters will let you know that.  This is a mental thing we have to overcome. We have to change the attitude of the starters to want to go deep and believe they can.”

Good luck with your beliefs on pitch counts being the answer. We obviously disagree with preparing kids to pitch by throwing and establishing a routine and instead using a number that is universal for all kids regardless of variables and routines. The majority believe that pitchers are fragile and should be treated in that fashion. We prep these kids for injury by not preparing them. The majority understimate the amazing, complex machine called the body and fail to realize that the body will adapt and actually make structural changes based on its needs. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004084045.htm The majority tell kids to not throw past a certain distance, the majority tell kids they need to take time off between starts to rest their arms, the majority tell kids that when you miss high that you should make an adjustment to their mechanics mid game. I understand what the majority think and am proud to be on the other side. It’s amazing what a little common sense can do along with some measurable feedback, it seems that the majority don’t understand. So, yes I am in the minority and thank you for recognizing that.

[color=blue][color=blue]Since I only deal with HS ball and above now-a-days, its very common to have pitchers who understand the importance of changing speeds period, whether is on only one type of pitch or across the spectrum.
[/color[/color]

A big difference knowing how to change speeds versus understanding how to change speeds. Based on my experience at the college level and above it very common for kids to understand the importance but still unable to execute changing speeds with effective location.