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Stat of the Day: Most pitches thrown in a postseason start

Oct 14, 2011, 4:16 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander tosses a ball in the dugout during the eighth inning of Game 3 of their MLB American League Championship Series baseball playoffs against the Texas Rangers in Detroit Reuters

Justin Verlander threw 133 pitches in last night’s win over the Rangers, which got me wondering about the most pitches ever thrown in a postseason start.

Turns out, Verlander wasn’t even close to cracking the top 10. And that’s only counting games since people started tracking pitch counts, which rules out a whole lot of data before 1970 or so:

                   YEAR     IP     PIT
Steve Carlton      1980    8.0     159
Luis Tiant         1975    9.0     155
Britt Burns        1983    9.1     150
David Cone         1995    7.2     147
Curt Schilling     1993    9.0     147
F. Valenzuela      1981    9.0     147
Livan Hernandez    1997    9.0     143
Al Leiter          2000    8.2     142
Livan Hernandez    1997    8.0     142
Roger Clemens      1986    7.1     142

Verlander ranks tied for 44th and only three of the 43 guys ahead of him logged fewer than his 7.1 innings.

Livan Hernandez is the only pitcher to appear on the list twice and even more amazingly the two starts were 11 days apart in 1997. One was the famous 15-strikeout, Eric Gregg-umpired complete game versus the Braves in the NLCS and the other was an eight-inning, six-run outing versus the Indians in the World Series.

Also of note is that four of the top-10 highest pitch counts in playoff history came in losing efforts.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Not to change the subject, but is Verlander singing to a levitating baseball in that picture?

  2. dodger88 - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    I would not have guessed so many of the performances would come during the 5 man rotation era.

  3. fcmlefty1 - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    The games from the 70’s and 80’s really don’t even count. They are more or less from the stone age compared to this era’s handling of pitchers.

    Livan might have one of the most durable arms ever. Dude has thrown a lot of pitches and a lot of innings in his career.

  4. qcubed3 - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    You just know some old-timey pitcher blows those numbers away. I can almost see it, some guy with a spectacular mustache and an equally awesome name like Jarvis ” Blue Oak” Worthington, and he threw 450 pitches in a three game triple-header . . .

    • hackerjay - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:13 PM

      Back then though I don’t think that at bats lasted as many pitches. There weren’t nearly as many strikeouts or walks, which are the two biggest reasons for high pitch counts.

  5. scatterbrian - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Between this pic of Verlander and that screencap of Theo under Featured Videos, I keep thinking of this:

  6. lukeslice - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Do we always have to make a comment to see the comments now or is that a Google Chrome issue?

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