Originally Posted by edabbs44
I'm not blowing off pitch counts and innings limits. What I'm talking about is the assertion that elevated pitch counts and/or innings automatically equals break down. Comments like these:
I understand that the more you pitch, the more wear you are going to have on your arm. I don't think that I need to read up on any studies to tell me that.
I agree with the concept, but do we really have true evidence that pitchers break down at a materially higher clip with more use? Or can we really say that Prior's fall was a direct result of the use he endured in 2003? I think that is an awfully big leap and probably has more to do with the bias against Dusty Baker in the sabermetric community than anything else.
Prior missed the first two months of 2004 with an achilles injury, who knows what that did to his season. In 2005, Prior led the majors in SO/9 and also was on his way to a pretty solid overall ERA campaign (more so than he finished up with) until he took a line drive off his elbow. ERA of 2.93 before, 4.07 after.
I don't disagree with the sentiment but it is really hard to look at this as an absolute. For every Prior we can go through a number of pitchers who have appeared to have been overused who haven't gotten injured, yet. But that's a convenient part of the argument, pitchers do tend to get injured no matter what the usage. Liriano was babied. Joba Rules. I can link the Webb/Johan/Peavy thread again. On the other end of the spectrum, Verlander was ridden pretty hard in 2009 and has been pretty good since. People were fainting after what happened to CC in Milwaukee...I think he's been ok as a Yankee. But I'm sure that if one of these guys ends up with an injury, we'll get some sort of in depth analysis about usage. And if they don't get injured, they'll just be some sort of superfreak that defied the odds.
Again...my argument isn't that pitch counts and usage limits are dumb. Quite the contrary It's more about how trying to link a specific 10 start stretch or even one season to an injury while ignoring everything else. Including human nature.
Eh...I'd be a proponent of soft limits, but to freak out b/c of one specific number is a bit much. Give a guy an extra day of rest, limit him some after throwing a lot the start before, keep an eye on usage if you are either headed to the playoffs or completely out of it. Absolutely. But stop the presses because you hit the magic 110 pitch number? No.
OK then maybe we agree more than we realized.
I agree that nobody can say for certain that Mark Prior's drastically reduced effectiveness after 2003 was directly caused by Dusty Baker (or his pitching coaches Larry Rothschild and Dick Pole) overworking him in 2003. It is impossible to prove that. I agree there were other contributing factors as well. I have not been one of the people who blame Dusty Baker for ruining Mark Prior (I expressed that clearly in posts #73 and 86 in this thread). But I also realize that Prior was indeed overworked in 2003 and I would strongly caution any manager from handling a pitcher in that manner. We simply know better these days. We now know that handling a pitcher in that manner is very likely (but not certain) to lead to reduced effectiveness and greatly increases the odds of getting hurt.
My point is merely that we know with 100% certainty that overworked pitchers are much more likely to get hurt and they are much more likely to experience drastic performance declines. By the way, overwork can be a matter of too many innings in a season, too many pitches in a game, or not enough time to recuperate between outings.
I agree with you 100% that not all pitchers who are overworked are going to get hurt or suffer drastic performance declines -- but they do at a much higher rate than non-overworked pitchers.
I agree with you 100% that not all pitchers who got hurt did so because of overwork -- pitching is dangerous even when handled carefully. Perhaps they would have broken down even earlier if they hadn't been babied.
Some smokers live to old age. Some non-smokers get lung cancer anyway. We can't say for certain how many cigarettes it takes to kill you. Some people can safely smoke more than others. But we still know that smoking is very dangerous to your health.
Some overworked pitchers don't get hurt. Some babied pitchers get hurt anyway. We can't say for certain how many pitches it takes to ruin you. Some pitchers can safely throw more than others. But we still know that pitching too much is very dangerous to your health.