Pitchers, Pitch Counts And The Manager

Watching Sandy Koufax pitch was the beginning of my love affair with pitchers. They are special athletes who are more than just that – they are thinkers and planners as well. They are the linchpins of the field – the game is theirs and the wins and losses go on their personal records – forever.

Pitchers used to be the kings of the hill, but the managers with all their print-outs and pitch counters are not helping. In fact they are hindering performance by micro managing these games. I cringe when I see a pitcher come in to pitch to just one batter – don’t you? It also upsets the flow of the game.

Each pitcher also has his own routines, superstitions or quirks as we may call them and of course each pitcher has his own very individual delivery. They are not difficult players, just very careful in their work on the mound.

Some managers haven’t a clue about how to deal with a really good pitcher – particularly a successful one like Bob Gibson who would never allow anyone to approach his mound. He even pitched a complete game after a ball broke a bone in his leg on a comebacker. Ask Tim Mc Carver about Gibby – Timmy caught a lot of pitchers in a four decade career behind the plate.

There are rules about when a manager may go to the mound and talk to his pitcher – however, they may send in the pitching coach with a message at any time. Each pitcher usually has a buddy in the infield on whom he relies for information as the game moves along. Keith Hernandez played that role for the Mets in the ’80’s. David Wright and Ike Davis are doing it now.

One new item about pitch counts is that some managers are using them as a guideline as to how many innings a young pitcher may spend on the mound for a game and even for a season. Some have even taken a young pitcher out in the late innings of a game to limit that pitch count — not for a poor performance.

Yet, someone named Nolan Ryan agrees with me — yes, that Nolan Ryan. He has eliminated all pitch counts on any team with which he is involved – and I think he knows his stuff.

Nolan’s pitchers are going the distance and as proud of it as he was during his storied career. Most have already increased their time on the mound and their production too.

For those who are unfamiliar with Nolan Ryan and his records –

You could look them up.