Aug 3, 2018A Year of Pitch Counts
This spring marked the first high school baseball season with nationwide pitch count rules, put in place by the NFHS to curtail arm injuries. The new requirement was applauded by many but did bring up some questions and unforeseen consequences. In addition, new research has shed a light on the effects of throws made during warm-ups and the risks of playing both pitcher and catcher.
The mandate from the NFHS required states to implement their own “pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game to afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances.” In North Carolina, for example, recovery periods are one day after throwing 31 to 45 pitches, two days for 46 to 60 pitches, and three days for 61 to 75 pitches.
One effect of the change is that it has put pressure on small schools with fewer players. To adjust, some have opted to shorten their schedules by exclusively playing in-conference games. “We can’t afford to overextend ourselves,” Hayesville (N.C.) High School Head Baseball Coach Jeff Vardo told the Citizen Times. “Our pitching staff is thin at best. When your numbers are limited, you have to manage things differently. Part of that was scheduling less games.”
Other coaches in North Carolina are more supportive of the pitching rules but would like to see some changes. “I wish the pitch count numbers were a little higher,” Murphy High School Head Baseball Coach Adam Clonts told the Citizen Times. “I think adjusting those numbers would benefit smaller schools and help them with the strategy aspect of the game. I think 60 pitches is too low for two days of rest. I’d like to see that number at 75.”
Even when there is a pitch count in place