View Full Version : Article: If We Like It, Then We Need to Put a Limit On It.
07-23-2013, 04:06 PM
You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?r=2116-If-We-Like-It-Then-We-Need-to-Put-a-Limit-On-It
Nice piece, as I hadn't thought about this. I've thought that this strategy of trying to turn college closers into viable starters is a great way to find low-mileage college arms, that might have been pigeon-holed as relief pitchers, and thus under priced. But actually developing them into starters takes a lot of work, and you make a good point that they should be cautious. The Guitierrez example is a good one to learn from, hopefully.
07-23-2013, 10:36 PM
I can't remember who wrote it, but there was an article about Dylan Bundy needing Tommy John's surgery. The gist was that it wasn't clear that putting a hard inning's cap on young pitchers was actually useful in preventing injuries. I can't remember if it was on baseball prospectus, baseball america or on fangraphs, but they had some interesting data.
Now I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some sort of plan, but I'm not sure there is any hard evidence that suggests limiting these guys to roughly 20% inning increases each year makes a real difference.
07-23-2013, 10:41 PM
Good article Jeremy. I really didn't care for taking a bunch of relievers in the 2012 draft, but those who rank drafts had no problem with in it. I'm more comfortable with everyone's a starter until they prove they're not and those who remain starters the longest are your best prospects. It seems to me most arm problems occur in the first year or so of pro ball and that's why I like Ryan's philosophy of trading for those with 1-2+ years of pro ball. Pitching with always be a numbers game.
I really like the article. You put a ton of research into it. I believe their philosophy revolves around the innings pitched but differently then you would originally expect. Also, you need to take into account the amount of innings these college arms were throwing in fall ball.
Their philosophy seems to be one that has a minimum standard of what an arm can throw over a full year of ball. Having dead arm or muscle soreness in the shoulder isn't an arm problem, its building strength in the arm. They believe that anyone that has a healthy arm should be able to pitch about 130 innings in a year, provided they are spaced properly. By having relievers live up to that in their first year as a pro lets you see if they can handle starting. As a reliever if you don't have your best stuff you suffer through one inning and your done. As a starter, what you do without your best stuff defines your career.
I know it is a bit of a straw-man, but one thing that could significantly affect your analysis is whether the pitchers mentioned threw in the Instructional League last year. I know there are not stats reported for these games, but it seems like a nice, low-leverage way of stretching out those relievers you planned to insert into the rotation next year. If you imagine it is like the AFL, pitchers could log another 20-25 innings.
07-24-2013, 11:16 AM
How much of the drafting of college relievers turn them starters is to really make them MLB starters? Obviously, there is something to getting low-mileage arms, but could getting these relievers to develop there secondary pitches, before returning them to relievers again be in the cards? I just havent ever heard of the draft relievers to make them starters strategy ever before.
07-24-2013, 11:24 AM
There are obviously tons of other variables. I wish I had all the data in front of me that the Twins probably have. But I would guess the Twins and prospects have at least some idea coming into the season how many innings guys are going to pitch, at least I hope they do.
07-24-2013, 11:37 AM
Nice article. Plenty of reason to shut these guys down. Perhaps Melotakis could get bumped to Ft. Myers and he Duffy and Rogers could alternate starts for the rest of the year or form some kind of auxillary rotation.
Also to consider is Luke Bard, though it seems he premptively got hurt, likely to delibrately throw off this study.
07-24-2013, 08:05 PM
Interesting topic. I suspect that as hard throwers are generally good for more innings than soft tossers. Not to say its wise to push the limit with anyone but I would expect Duffey and other fireballers to fare better than guys like Shibuya and Rogers.
07-24-2013, 08:17 PM
I don't think there are any easy answers, or one formula when it comes to protecting young arms. Most of these guys were likely not all that protected in high school and college. Even the relievers were likely used in ways that could make you cringe. As someone pointed out on another thread, innings usage can sometimes tell only part of the story. For instance even in the majors, relievers often warmup without ever getting into a game. Or sometimes they are asked to warmup multiple times before they are put into the game. If this happens 3 or 4 games in a row, it probably tougher on an arm than what a starter on a regular usuage goes through. Even though they haven't pitched many innings.
Back in the day, when I umped high school baseball, the amount of pitches some of those kids made could be extremely high, even though the innings weren't that high. 30 or 40 pitches an inning wasn't unusual, thanks to control issues and defense issues. Having a kid pitch 3 times in week wasn't unusual either, because of the way the games were compressed. Just a couple of years ago I watched a high school game where the coach called every pitch from the dugout. In an early spring game(in North Dakota) he let his starter pitch 7 innings and had him throw over half breaking balls. I am sure the kid threw 200 pitches. There isn't much sense out there when it comes to protecting young arms. I doubt if many young pitchers get to the minors without some sort of arm or shoulder damage.
All that being said, you do have to pitch to learn how to pitch. I don't think Bert is particularly right about pitch limits and such. But it is a fine line. A college pitcher coming into the minors being limited too much, well it is going to take years for him to build up the arm strength to pitch 200 innings in a season. At some point they have to pitch. In order develop all their pitches. To just learn how to pitch.
07-24-2013, 10:18 PM
. In an early spring game(in North Dakota) he let his starter pitch 7 innings and had him throw over half breaking balls.
.Jim your example made my arm hurt. I pitched in North Dakota in college and rarely threw my curve until the end of the season. Simply too cold and could never get a feel for it. I ran sprints between innings to keep a sweat on, so the number of pitches was no problem. Really didn't use the curve unless the sun came out.
07-25-2013, 09:18 AM
You can probably add Brett Lee in CR to your list. He threw less than 50 innings for Elizabethton last year and he's now over 90 for the Kernels in his first year as a full time starting pitcher.
The 6 man rotation has helped limit innings for Lee and Melotakis in CR, but they both could be inching up on some sort of limit. They've been the two most reliably consistent starters for the Kernels, so it would be nice to do whatever must be done to make sure they've still got some innings in the tank for the playoffs in September.
07-25-2013, 09:33 AM
Makes sense, but a word of caution: Not everybody responds to an increase in innings (stretch) the same way. Lots of it has to do with the prep work these guys did in the off-season, the way they take care of themselves, the shape they are and their genetics.
Cookie cutter approaches rarely work. Individual assessments needed.
07-25-2013, 04:22 PM
I didn't include Lee cause he would have been pitching in EST games and I don't have any idea how much he threw.
Thrylos, I get that there is no canned formula for determining an innings-count, but staying healthy after seeing a spike in IP appears to be exception, not the rule.