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'The Frightening Reality of the Modern Pitcher'

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if this is behind a paywall or not, but the gist of it is that as pitchers throw harder and harder, injuries are becoming more and more common, and no one really knows where it stops. The writer also notes astutely that 12-year-olds, capped at around 90 pitches, throw only about 10 less pitches than the red light for most MLB starters, especially young ones:

    Baseball Prospectus | Raising Aces: The Frightening Reality of the Modern Pitcher

    On the heels of yesterday's 13- and 16-strikeout performances, I'm curious about where the games goes from here. Teams surely get tired of the high-wire act of keeping aces healthy. Will the pendulum eventually swing back?

    If I had to guess, hitters are eventually going to adjust to the modern-day velocity, and pitchers like Dallas Keuchel who can consistently keep the ball on the ground and in the ballpark will become hotly pursued. Maybe even pitchers who can complete a game. I know the consensus is that the age of the 300-inning season is well in the rearview mirror, but I'm not completely sure.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Velasquez only needed 113 pitches for his 16 strikeouts.

    He also finished the game with a 94 (or maybe 96) mph fastball.
  3. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    So TJ surgery in two weeks?
    Lugnuts likes this.
  4. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    Garcia needed, I think, 104 for his 13 strikouts and shutout.
  5. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I think it's changing already, Dick. I saw this quote in the LA Times from Ross Stripling after the no-hitter that wasn't. He was explaining how it's different now than in his 120-pitch days at Texas A&M. (Pre-TJ, of course.)

    “In college, if I got 0-2, 1-2, I could just bounce two curveballs, waste pitches,” Stripling said. “In pro ball, you can’t really do that anymore, waste any pitches. It’s a whole different mentality, trying to pitch to contact.”

    That was surprising to read given the emphasis on strikeouts in the box score. But maybe it's only some teams or maybe it's because of his history.
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    The question you have to ask is: What is the incentive for teams to want their starters to pitch deeper into games? Are they sacrificing anything by carrying seven or eight relief pitchers? At some point, perhaps some team will gain an edge by specializing in late-inning defensive replacements on the roster, or designated pinch-runners who can't be stopped on the base paths, and that will be an impetus to get more innings out of starters. But there needs to be a trigger. The fact that we hate watching the parade of one-batter relievers slow up the pace of the game means nothing, of course.
  7. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

  8. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    I take him to be saying that he could bounce two curveballs and have a reasonable chance to get an out on one of those, whereas in the bigs, a wasted pitch is simply a wasted pitch.
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    But he specifically says "trying to pitch to contact."
  10. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    Yes, but I think ... and it's just my reading of what he's saying ... that the pitch to contact was then (when he was in college). And I think he's referring to pitching to get a swing. I could be mistaken, though.
  11. linotype

    linotype Well-Known Member

    What he's saying, to me, was that in college, he could get an 0-2 or 1-2 count and bounce a curveball because he'd know the hitters would swing at them.

    The "pitching to contact" happens in the bigs because the instruction there is, instead of wasting a pitch trying to get a swing and a miss, the goal is to keep the ball low and away (but still in the strike zone) and get the hitter to roll the wrists over and hit a grounder to short. Or low and in to a left-handed hitter and have him hit a grounder to second -- or precisely into the teeth of the infield shift.

    The idea behind pitching to contact is to get the batter to hit the ball on the pitcher's terms, and it takes a little more precision than simply reaching back and blowing the ball past a hitter or fooling him with an ungodly breaking ball.

    Plus, wasting a curveball in the dirt that the hitter takes for a ball adds to the pitch count, whereas working to contact (typically within 3 pitches in an at-bat) keeps the pitch count lower and in theory allows you to work longer into the game.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
  12. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Chris Sale threw nine last night and after the game noted there's no point in striking out 14 if you can't go more than five innings. Perhaps we are seeing an evolution - de-volution? - in thinking starting to take root? Particularly if defensive positioning continues to improve.
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