If you’re going to the series against the Giants that starts today — and you should, because the Giants are in first place, and the Dodgers are finally back home after what seemed like a never-ending road trip from beyond — you’ll see the May edition of Dodger Insider magazine available at the park. It has Matt Kemp on the cover. It’s very cool.
Also cool, or not, depending on how you look at such things: somewhere inside, you’ll find an article by yours truly about the state of pitch counts in baseball today and whether they really keep pitchers healthy or not. (I’d love to say that “Game of Throws” was my idea, because it’s wonderful, but that’s entirely on Jon Weisman. Hodor.)
As you’ll see in the article — you can also get it digitally if you’re not in the park — high pitch counts don’t necessarily lead exactly to arm injuries. When you consider that Oakland has lost two of their top starters to Tommy John surgery this year, and teams like the Mets and Diamondbacks are trying to get by without their best starters, the fact that the Dodgers have really only lost Chad Billingsley and Scott Elbert (and, in the minors, Ross Stripling, though as I’ve written before, he didn’t exactly help himself) in the last few years isn’t that bad at all. Maybe the team knows something about keeping pitchers healthy; maybe, and perhaps far more likely, they’ve stumbled into a pretty big patch of luck there.
Still, the 2014 Dodgers are throwing a ton of pitches, and what’s interesting there is that does correlate, usually, to poor pitching, which is not true in this case. Look at the bottom three teams in pitches, and their runs/game allowed:
1) CHW, 5,572, 4.91
2) LAD, 5,497, 3.94
3) ARI, 5,418, 5.43
4) HOU, 5,204, 5.26
The Dodgers are in the top 11 in most strikeouts and walks. They throw a lot of pitches. That might not be likely to change, and it’s also part of why every game seems to take five hours. (That they’ve already been in eight extra inning affairs doesn’t help, either.)
As the sport continues to try to figure out just what in the hell they can do to keep pitchers healthy, no one seems to be able to figure out where pitch counts come into play. Old school guys routinely threw 150 pitches or more, and they got hurt. Today’s pitchers are much more coddled, and they get hurt too. It’s almost like the human body wasn’t made to throw a baseball at 98 mph thousands of times per year. Who knew? More, and hopefully interesting, content in the article.