Saturday, May 18, 2013

Total Pitch Count vs Pitches per Inning

Articles about Pitch Counts in Youth Baseball

The concept of limiting the total number of pitches thrown in a game is to reduce stress on the arm and shoulder in order to prevent injury among pitchers.

Pitcher to Catcher Strategy

Some coaches let a starting pitcher reach their pitch limit, then move them to catcher – putting additional stress on the arm. This strategy is no longer allowed in Little League.

Pitcher to catcher ban: any pitcher who delivers 41 or more pitches in a game may not go behind the plate to play catcher for the remainder of the day. 

2013 Little League Pitch Count Limits and Mandatory Rest Rules

By Lindsay Barton, MomsTeam

In an effort to stem the alarming increase in elbow and shoulder injuries among young baseball pitchers,  Little League Baseball adopted important new rules in 2007 to limit the number of  pitches a pitcher can throw in a game and how much rest he must take pitching appearances. 

In its continuing effort to protect the health and safety of youth pitchers, and to reflect the latest research on pitching injuries, Little League made additional changes in its rules which went into effect for the spring 2010 season and beyond.
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Pitch Counts
by Jill E. Wolforth, Texas Baseball Ranch, March 7, 2013

Let me start by giving you two pitching scenarios:
Pitching Scenario #1 – Our young pitcher throws 60 pitches in two innings of work.
Pitching Scenario #2 – Our young pitcher throws 90 pitches in six innings of work.
All things being equal, which pitcher had the more strenuous work load this day?  If based on pure pitch counts, people would say Pitcher #2.  Yet, when looking at this deeper, it is actually Pitcher #1 that had the more strenuous outing because he threw more pitches per inning. Pitcher # 1 averaged 30 pitches per inning compared to 15 pitches per inning for Pitcher #2.
The key thing to remember, in our opinion, is that pitches per inning is more important than total pitches. We like to see pitchers average 15-18 pitches per inning.

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Per Inning Pitch Count: More Important Than Total Pitch Count? 
High per inning pitch count puts more stress on arm

By Lindsay Barton, MomsTeam

Little League and USA Baseball have focused in recent years on total pitch count limits and rest periods between pitching outings as ways to reduce the number of pitching injuries.  Some baseball experts believe, however, that per inning pitch counts are more important than total pitch counts and that removing pitchers when they exceed per inning pitch count limits and show signs of fatigue will do more to protect the arms of young pitchers than focusing exclusively on total pitch count limits.
For example, MomsTeam's baseball expert, John Pinkman, recommends as follows:
  • Goal: 15 pitches per inning 
  • 1 inning at 25 to 30 pitches okay; 2 in a row done for the day
  • 1 inning at 35 pitches or more: done for the day
Another set of guidelines comes from pitching coach Ron Wolforth of Pitching Central and the Texas Baseball Ranch.

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The Problem with Pitch Counts
by Ron Wolforth, Pitching Central & the Texas Baseball Ranch | WebBall

Ron Wolforth looks at why conventional pitch-count thinking is flawed.

The challenge with instituting any universal standard for everyone, like pitch count, is that almost no two people are identical in any substantive way. We all are like snowflakes…unique and individual. 

Pitch counts were not kept in MLB until 1971. So since 1971 what is the record for pitches in a single game?
Nolan Ryan in 1971 at 244 pitches in a 15 inning game. In that same game, Luis Tiant threw 189.

Pitch Count Per Inning vs. Pitch Count Per Outing

First, I am completely convinced pitch count per inning is vastly more important than total pitch count. Not even close.

Nolan Ryan’s 244 pitches occurred over a 15 inning game. That breaks down to 16.2 pitches per inning. Keep that number in mind as we go forward.

You tell me which pitcher had the harder night…104 pitches over 7 innings or 62 pitches over 2 innings?

The fact that I’ve framed this question like I have, few miss that the 62 pitch outing (31 per inning) was a much tougher workload than 104 outing (14.8 per inning).

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Observational fatigue & new guidelines

by Ron Wolforth, Pitching Central & the Texas Baseball Ranch | WebBall

Ron Wolforth covers a new way to think about pitch limits.

3 Checks for Observational Fatigue

    1) A drop in average radar velocity of 3-5% 
    2) Consistently elevated fastball
    3) Missing locations high or low

Coach Wolforth’s Guidelines for pitches per inning

    12-15 pitches per inning- Green light (Ideal)

    18-22 pitches per inning - Yellow light

    23-30 pitches per inning - Orange light

    30+ pitches per inning - Red light

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Pitch CountsTexas Baseball Ranch

The key thing to remember, in our opinion, is that pitches per inning is more important than total pitches. We like to see pitchers average 15-18 pitches per inning.

There are also some good guidelines on how long a pitcher should have off or, in other words, how many days rest before he takes the mound again.  Generally speaking, a pitcher should take off the number of hours equal to the number of pitches he threw.
For example, if a young man throws 50 pitches, he should rest 50 hours or 2 days.  So, if he pitches on Tuesday and finished at 7pm, the soonest he should pitch again is Thursday at 7pm.

How many pitches are too many in high school baseball?
By Bryce Miller, Des Moines Register | July 13, 2013

Dr. James Andrews: 100-plus is too much

Dr. James Andrews is the most renowned sports orthopedist in the world, performing procedures on major-leaguers such as Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Tim Hudson and Albert Pujols.

“That (pitch counts climbing past 100) is too many,” Andrews told The Des Moines Register in a telephone interview Friday. “In high school, that’s just too many. If you get over 100 pitches with a senior in high school, you’re getting beyond a kid’s fatigue factor.

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High School Pitching Limits

State Pitching Limits -

WebBall usually references pitching limits based on number of pitches thrown. We believe it has the potential to be a better system than simple counting innings. "Innings" could be one pitch or 30+ so it has little real bearing on a pitcher's use, overuse, or recovery. However, most state organizations and many other leagues continue to base their guidelines/rules on innings pitched.

Pitch Limits For High School Pitchers - InfoSports (pdf)




  1. AnonymousJuly 03, 2014

    When you are switch pitcher are pitch counts tallied on each arm?

  2. Pitch counts are tallied per pitcher, not separately for each arm. So a switch pitcher is limited to the same pitch count as a regular pitcher during a Little League game.