Innings limits have become the norm in baseball and for many it’s at the cost of great baseball. Sure you want to take care of young arms but treating all pitchers the same doesn’t make sense. No two bodies are the same and the Royals are trying to push their young co-ace Yordano Ventura past an innings limit many clubs stick to, in hopes of winning the World Series.
Ventura threw 183.0 innings during the regular season of his rookie campaign, 33 innings more than in 2013 when he pitched 134.2 in the minor leagues and another 15.1 in the majors.
David Lennon of Newsday points out that the Mets could have found themselves in a similar situation this past season.
“For an example closer to home, we’re sure you recall how the Mets handled Jacob deGrom’s Rookie of the Year audition. As soon as deGrom went over 178 innings, a mark he reached on Sept. 21, the Mets pulled the plug without discussion.”
For the Royals, this feels like a once in a decade opportunity. With a ton of young players, this improbable run is something they have to capitalize on now. Before Game two of the World Series, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said that “Everybody has a small window of opportunity. All of our success is tied to that opportunity.” It’s true for all baseball teams. In most cases there is only a small window and not seizing it seems like a crime.
This season Matt Harvey will be coming off of Tommy John surgery and if history is any indication, he won’t be pushed much past 160 innings. That was the limit for Stephen Strasburg in 2012. Also in 2012, Adam Wainwright threw 198.2 for the Cardinals after the surgery but he had pitched 200+ innings multiple times before that.
Moore also points out something that many people in baseball seem to ignore. Not all players are created equal.
“No two players are the same,” Moore said. “The only commonalities in this game are 60 feet, six inches, the plate is 17 inches, the ball is the same weight, ninety feet [between the bases]. Those are the commonalities. But every pitcher is different. They all prepare differently. They all have different mindsets. Their arms work perhaps differently. They have different arsenals.”
So should Harvey and Strasburg have the same limits? Could the Mets have pushed deGrom harder if they were in the race? The baseball world will ponder those questions until the ends of time but for Moore and the Royals, they are recognizing that runs like this don’t happen often and when they do, pushing a guy into uncharted territory is sometimes a necessity.