Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pitch Counts in High School

Most states have rules on the total number of innings that a high school pitcher can throw in one week. In Kansas, a kid is allowed to throw 12 innings during a 48-hour span.

A good high school pitcher might average 15 pitches per inning.

12 innings x 15 pitches/inning = 180 pitches

That's a lot of pitches in a short time - especially for a young arm. But is the inning limit the best formula to protect a young pitcher's arm?

Extended Innings ...

The big problem that I see is with the long innings, where a kid throws 20+ pitches. 
The pitcher starts loosing control, looses velocity, rolls their eyes, takes long walks around the mound and shows general signs of fatigue. And the 30 pitch innings are really tough on the arm. Most kids don't have the strength and conditioning to handle this type of load. 

Plus, there is the mental fatigue of long stints on the mound. It's hard to face a big hitter twice in one inning - with the bases loaded - after the entire team batted around. 

I have seen HS kids throw 75+ pitches in only 3 innings. Not good.

Baseball tournaments are a special problem where players throw extra innings and don't get enough rest between outings.

Some pitchers recover faster than others, especially if the follow a good warmup and post throwing routine (like used at Driveline Baseball).

Pitcher and Catcher ...

I have seen HS pitchers who threw several innings, then they switched positions with the catcher in the same game. Yikes! Give the kid a rest.

Some catchers also pitch in relief for the team. This is a lot of throwing – without rest and recovery – in between pitching, so maybe they should just stick to one position.

Quick Estimate ...
Around 100 pitches would be plenty for most HS pitchers in a 7-inning game. 
7 innings * 15 pitches/inning = 105 pitches

How about using a closer for the last inning of the game?

A starter who goes 6 innings, would throw about 90 pitches.
6 innings * 15 pitches/inning = 90 pitches

Each pitcher is unique, so it's hard to set a specific limit on pitch counts. Guidelines could be helpful, since some coaches only focus on winning and not the health of players.

I think it's important to track the number of pitches thrown each inning. Avoid the 25+ pitch innings that can cause arm strain.

Rotate Pitchers

Coaches tend to rely on a handful of pitchers during the season. But, there are other guys on the team who are would love to pitch a few innings. Why not give them a chance.

JULY 13, 2016
Pitch counts replacing innings thrown as new standard for high school baseball

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