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Clayton Kershaw wants to chuck the pitch count

Feb 24, 2010, 11:20 AM EDT

Clayton Kershaw stretch.jpgLike most young hurlers, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is subject to a pitch count. He’d prefer that he not be:

“This year I don’t think there should be that 100-pitch thing. If there was a
pitch count last year, I think this year there should be no
restrictions, no holds barred, I should pitch as long as I can. That’s
what I’m hoping for. That’s just what I feel.”

Rick Honeycutt said that the Dodgers would not “take the gloves off.”  Which, given that Kershaw is 21 years old, is the wise move given recent history. You gotta monitor and limit the workload of young arms.

Still, I agree with Kershaw on one point, and that’s the arbitrary nature of a 100 pitch count in and of itself.  The point should be to not let pitchers get fatigued or overworked, as people who study this stuff suspect that throwing on a tired arm — thus messing with mechanics and muscles and labrums and things — is when the real damage is done.  Isn’t it entirely possible that the fatigue point can come at pitch 79 on a particular afternoon? And that some days a guy is free and easy at 105 or 110?

Maybe this is way easier said than done, but if I had a young horse like Kershaw I’d devote someone — maybe my bench coach; they don’t seem to do anything — to become an expert in his mechanics, tells for fatigue and that sort of thing rather than simply relying on the automatic 100-pitches-and-you’re-out rule that has come to pervade the thinking on this subject.

  1. Old Gator - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    I once had a wife who imposed something similar to a pitch count on me. On an annual basis. Kershaw should not stand for this or he’s gonna wind up on the Mutts.

  2. Jonny5 - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    I think he should do what his manager tells him to do, for the teams sake, as well as for his own career. It is possible to damage your throwing arm due to fatigue. They pay him, so if they say go on break? do it. If he want to pitch a complete game? Well get more outs with less pitches. Ask Dusty Baker what people will say for running up pitch counts higher than the norm……

  3. Jonny5 - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    I have the same issue Gator. I get to pitch one night a week and many times I have a rushed “pitch count”. I don’t like it either.

  4. Charles Gates - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I think that’s Nolan Ryan’s philosophy. Know your pitchers, understand when they’re tired and manage to that without the distraction of arbitrary pitch totals.
    Gator – perhaps she was just limiting your workload so you didn’t injure yourself. Ya know, just taking it easy with someone green and unproven.

  5. Roger Moore - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    I think that you’re missing the point. Most of the time, a hard pitch count isn’t something that the manager and pitching coach come up with. If they really want to control the workload on a young pitcher, they’ll follow exactly the strategy you suggest. Hard pitch counts are generally something that’s handed down by the front office to tie the hands of a manager who isn’t trusted to look after the health of a young pitcher on his own.

  6. Ben - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    I agree, I’ve always thought that a team should hire a specialist to know when a pitcher is tired, and devise tests like the Red Sox did with Papelbon, to know when their arm is at risk. I mean you’re investing all this money in your ace, isn’t it worth investing a little more to ensure he doesn’t get hurt?

  7. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    There’s a PED joke in here somewhere :)

  8. Old Gator - Feb 24, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Well yeah, I was only 20 or so at the time. I suppose I should be grateful. And when I think about her now, I probably would be if not for the few times that she actually let me…uh…take the mound. Tell you what – we never did pull our shades so chances are that at least we had a bigger audience than the Feesh during a Tuesday afternoon game.

  9. Jonny5 - Feb 24, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    LOL!! yeah, do they have the female version yet?? My catcher needs some.

  10. JoeT - Feb 24, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    Craig, that’s why your not a pitching coach.

  11. MikeN - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    The 100-pitch count rule is another ridiculous bromide in a sport filled with them. There is no magic physiological reaction in all pitchers that demands a limit of 100 pitches. Depending on strength and conditioning, pitching motion (three-quarter, side arm, submariner) type of pitcher (power / fastball, junk, knuckleballer) and playing conditions on any given day – there is no way to apply a number like that. But sheep-like coaches do it anyway to make themselves feel important and educated.
    And don’t even get me started on: “closers” and the idiotic use of marginal middle relievers. When the game is in jeopardy in the 6th or 7th inning with the meat of lineup coming up; why put in one of your worst pitchers – a non-starting middle reliever, instead of bringing in your dominating closer (if you have one)? Instead the dominating guy sits until the ninth with no one on base and maybe the bottom third coming up. By then your four run lead may been blown in the 6th inning by the middle reliever. It’s the dumbest thing in baseball. MOST major league pitchers could pitch a scoreless ninth against marginal lineups or pinch hitters, but most cannot stop a rally with men in scoring position against top hitters.
    Oh, and nobody “makes up for a crappy bat with their defense” in the middle infield. Maybe the outfield, since an above-average catch probably saves at least two to even four bases. But exceptional plays by the SS and 2B probably save the equivalent of a walk, with the occasional runner-on-base not advancing. But if the SS or 2B can’t hit to save his life, he’ll never make up the difference over an average fielding,and average-to-good hitting infielder.
    Oh, and Jeter is THE most overrated SS…..
    There. I’m done.

  12. windows registry cleaner - Mar 6, 2010 at 2:16 AM

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  13. richy - Apr 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    It’s about money, bottom line. Protect investments.

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