Is Pitch Count an Issue for High School Baseball? Coaches react.


In addition to a shortened preseason and a compact schedule, area high school baseball coaches had an additional challenge this spring: the introduction of pitch counts.

A common practice in Little League for many years and a relatively new development in American Legion baseball, entering the field counts in Massachusetts high school baseball is a direct result of the MIAA’s decision to adopt. the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations. for baseball for the 2020 season which has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rules for the number of throws themselves are relatively straightforward – the number of throws thrown during a spawn directly determines how much rest a thrower must receive before they can raise. No rest is needed for a pitcher who throws less than 25 pitches in an outing, but the scale gradually slides from there: 26-40 throws require a day off, 41-55 require two days, 55-70 throws require three days, and 71-115 requires four days of rest.

Coaches’ reactions to the introduction of the pitch count are decidedly mixed.

“I don’t like it, but we are following the protocols,” said Gardner coach Fran Kondrotas. “I just think it treats us like Little League coaches instead of trusting the coaches to make good decisions with the kids.

“I would never put a child in danger of throwing too many shots,” he added. “When you have to watch it all the time I think that’s overkill and that’s the response I get from guys I talk to.”

Tim Caouette, in his sixth season as a varsity coach with Oakmont Regional, said pitching numbers fundamentally changes the conversations he has with his pitchers and their parents.

“Overall the overall narrative is a lot more focused on player health and arm health and planning rather than just saying ‘hey we’ll see what happens,’ Caouette said. “It’s a new wrinkle and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You have young children and young arms and everyone recovers differently.

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“No child wants to get out of the game,” he continued. “Now these conversations are easy. “This is your pitch number and I know you want to keep going and I know you are feeling great but sorry for running out.” It takes away a bit of that subjectivity.

For Narragansett regional coach Jason Donovan, asking how he and his staff would use pitchers has become a bigger question this spring than when they would use a pitcher.

“Now we take a look at it and think how do we make it work? Maybe a run or two on a starter, see how he does, and then as the game progresses, have two or three more guys in mind depending on the number, ”said Donovan, who noted that nine of the Warriors’ 12 players took the mound at one point this spring. “You have to plan ahead. You get into a streak where you have three or four games in a week or three or four games in five and six days, you absolutely have to plan how many guys you can throw and what kind of limit. It’s definitely a different way of looking at it.

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At Oakmont, Caouette began experimenting with defined roles for Spartans pitchers.

“I never really used or used a closer in baseball in high school, at least not on a regular basis or as an assumed role, but we’ve done it twice with Watson Mexico this year. It’s a role we’ll look at in the future, ”said the coach, who noted that Jayden Downing and Isaiah Smith were Oakmont’s main relievers when the starters struggled. “You would have a kid who would come in and throw hard for a set or two and be able to use them multiple times in a week. It was never a defined role, but our thinking about it is definitely starting to change.

Monty Tech head coach Kevin Anderson said the Bulldogs’ pitching depth was often slim at the end of each week.

“We have a lot of seniors but not a lot of pitchers and then you have all these games behind each other and then the days off in between and now it’s tough. Now you are trying to create pitchers and I did. I had to bring in some guys from the outfield just to chew up innings, ”said the Bulldogs coach, who noted he relies on Griffin Miller, Jake Ross and Brenden Lucia as his main pitchers. “The guy I start with, he has to throw holds and I need at least five (innings) from him. If he comes out early, there is the snowball effect. There is certainly a snowball effect by the end of the week. By Friday you have to preserve.

Count Murdock senior pitcher Jack Polcari among those who aren’t a fan of pitch counts.

“Two years ago, I was in second year and I was throwing twice a week. Usually I’d pitch half a game on a Monday, then get a full game, or most of a game, on a Friday or Wednesday, ”said Polcari, who recalls pitching all 12 innings. ‘a 5-4 win over Murdock. against Mahar in May 2018. He struck out 11 in an unthinkable performance now. “For teams like us that don’t have a lot of depth and not a lot of pitchers, it’s really hard to develop pitchers, especially in a season like this where we haven’t had a lot of preseason. . “

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Murdock freshman coach Greg Maynard echoed his pitcher’s sentiments, adding that a week of pre-season pitching had hardly prepared the Blue Devils for the challenge of cramming 12 games into a season of four weeks.

“I had kids who only threw a handful of enclosures before the start of the season so we’re going into our first game and I have to stop a kid after 40 or 50 throws because he’s not ready to. throw more than 50 throws. I don’t want to hurt his arm either. I understand that, but I wish they could have pushed it back for a year, ”he said. “We’re lucky we didn’t play four games in a week because I wouldn’t have anyone. I wouldn’t have anyone to pitch and the game is not competitive at this point. It is not fair to them and it is not fair to us.

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