Lightning Baseball

Pitch Counts
Posted Apr 29, 2017

For reasons we all understand, there was a pitch count rule instituted for all pitchers at the high school level for the spring high school season. For those unaware, it was the first step in an effort to potentially protect young men from being over-used and possibly injuring their arms.

Granted, it’s still very possible for a pitcher to get injured, but CHSAA felt like this was a step in the right direction. And other than those HS coaches that were simply over-using pitchers, it was most likely met with at least mild approval.

But I think we should take it a step further (but don’t ask me how we should implement this because it would require an honor system for the most part I would guess). In the recent World Baseball Classic (aka – WBC), pitchers were on pitch counts, much more restrictive than the HS pitch count restrictions in place here in CO. How can that be?

We have grown men, fully mature professional athletes, working hard every day in the off-season, under professional supervision that were not allowed to throw over 65 pitches in the first round, 85 pitches in second round and 95 pitches in the final rounds.

Yet we have witnessed numerous HS pitchers (underclassmen no less) that are throwing 100 pitch complete games in their first outings of the spring – after having not pitched at all previously to those outings!

This needs to be the next step for HS pitchers. And it has to be implemented by CHSAA because, other than by exception, it will not be implemented by HS coaches intent on winning.

Until this happens, the only people that can do anything about it are the players (often 15,16 year old boys) or their parents. The issue here is that as soon as a player attempts to limit his pitch count, the coach will find ways to solve the perceived problem by often cutting this player, or benching him, or worst of all – simply continuing to over-throw the young man.

If the parents attempt to step in, the same results can happen as the HS coach can simply cut the player, or bench him, or over-use him – because they can stand behind the current CHSAA pitch count rules.

The ironic thing is that the “club” teams are bearing the brunt of the “over-use” because baseball has become much more of a year-round sport. And there are indeed club programs out there that will over-use pitchers just as their HS coaches do. But at the very least, by the time summer rolls around, just like in the big leagues, pitchers are on a much more flexible pitch count given that over the span of the spring they were able to build up strength and stamina.
It’s time for CHSAA to build on the effort they have just recently instituted and while WBC pitch counts are still fresh on the minds of all that watched the incredible event this year.