Beyond The Boxscore has an interesting post today on “The Verducci Effect”.
The Verducci Effect is best described as follows according to their site:
“It’s like training for a marathon. You need to build stamina incrementally. The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It’s a general rule of thumb, and one I’ve been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it’s amazing how often they pay for it.”
This is why the Yankees took painstaking efforts to protect Joba Chamberlain in the last two seasons, and also why both Ian Kennedy and Phillip Hughes who were not protected succumbed to decline and injury.
Most teams do go through great extents to protect their prized young pitchers and usually use pitch counts to prevent a pitcher from being overworked.
In the article, they target several pitchers who are at risk this season, and among them is Mike Pelfrey of whom they write:
Mike Pelfrey (146 IP last year, 200 this year – 54 inning increase). Pelfrey is a prime candidate to be a victim of the Verducci Effect. I can’t fault the Mets for the way they used him in 2008, since they were in a heated playoff race and Pelfrey was very effective. However, he threw many more innings than he ever had, making it fairly likely that Pelfrey will experience an injury and/or ineffectiveness in 2009. It’s far from a certainty, but if I was a Mets fan, I’d be very worried.
Other pitchers at risk include Tim Lincecum, Chad Billingsley and Jon Lester.
Read the full article as the evidence is quite compelling. Hat tip to Mets Fever where I first read about the article.