There is a very good reason pitching coaches have clickers to count pitches. And now, even most broadcasts have the pitch count embedded on the screen. In the age of routine and specialization, pitch count is huge. Often times we’ll fade starters that have an excessive pitch count in their next game. Wade Miley through 119 pitches in his game against Washington the other night, and that’s too many for almost anyone. We’ve talked about doing the work in advance, and I can tell you with 95% certainty that we well be fading Miley in his next outing. That should be at Detroit next Tuesday.
The worst case scenario there is that there are injuries between now and then to the Tigers, in which case the “over” may well be in play simply because Detroit has a bad bullpen and Baltimore’s is struggling.
The case for just how closely the numbers are watched came into play last night in Tampa Bay. Chris Archer had only allowed eight hits an no runs through eight inning, yet Cash sat him for the ninth with 101 pitches thrown.
The question then becomes how many is too many? Of course, it depends. Someone like Max Scherzer routinely throws 110 pitches, so that’s just not a lot. For him. But not all elite pitchers have the same standards. For someone like Jake Arietta, even 100 is a lot. In fact, this season he threw 100 pitches only ones, and in his next outing was promptly shelled by the Red Sox.
It is all about routine and consistency. These guys throw every five days and have a very specific set of drills they do in the interim, and disruptions matter.
So, just as we look at bullpen usage on a daily basis, “starter usage” is almost more important, because if you can’t get TO the bullpen it really doesn’t matter. What we might not have shared is where we find the bullpen usage information, and for me that’s at: baseballpress.com
Looking for pitch counts is just about that easy. ESPN.com. Find the player, click the game log, and bingo, there it is. You can easily see what is “normal” for any particular pitcher.
Dave Essler is a handicapper at Pregame, featured on ESPN, CNN, Fox Sports, and many more.