Major League Baseball and the pitch count.

For those of you who are fans of Major League Baseball, it would be shocking if the term “pitch count” is not in your vocabulary. Why are teams imposing pitch counts the way they are? What have they done to the game of baseball?

Given pitch counts have been around forever, what I am wondering is, if the game is getting out of hand in regards to this issue. Decades ago, Nolan Ryan once threw in excess of 200 pitches (it was an extra-inning game). But what has changed?

Injuries and contracts are playing the largest roles in this change. One concern I have with teams pampering starters who they have significant investments in would be due to the fact that countless hard-throwing stars in the past proved to be durable (Nolan Ryan would be an example). On top of that, starters are not getting hurt at a much different rate than they were decades prior.

Since the last sentence clashes with reality, why are teams altering their plans with starting pitchers? Is there even a way to truly answer such an inquiry? Probably not, mostly due to the fact that there are countless ways to discuss why clubs choose to handle hurlers the way they do.

One reason they handle these pitchers like this, body type. Since clubs have pitchers with shredded physiques, they keep in mind that muscles tear and pull while fat can’t. Anytime billionaires invest nine-figures in a starter, he wants to minimize risks over a six month season. Obviously, throwing fewer pitches is one way to lower the probability of injury.

Pitch counts have become such a focal point of managers that they are even removing pitchers from games while they continue to deal at a high level. There have been occasions when pitchers were taken out late in games with no-hitters due to pitch counts. If these pitchers are bigger, stronger, and faster than guys 45 years ago, shouldn’t they be able to muster enough energy to throw 110 pitches, rather than 90 pitches? How is that happening when Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters and never left a game with a no-hitter intact because he had thrown “too many pitches.”

All in all, the advent of pitch counts has changed the landscape of the game. It isn’t that teams have all of a sudden decided to put such an emphasis on bullpens because they can shorten a game, it is due to the fact that they chose many years ago to remove starting pitchers after he threw the ball 100 times. So, White Sox fans,  next time Reynaldo Lopez hits the 110 pitch mark, remember, keeping him in isn’t doing any more damage. That’s just what the owners want you to think.

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