The Trouble with Pitch Counts

Let me start by saying that pitch counts are not inherently bad. In fact they are great at monitoring pitches and making sure that a number is tracked for the amount of live throws a pitcher is completing in a game. This can be great, however pitch counts do not take everything into account.

At the beginning of each inning, a pitcher will go out and throw around 5 pitches in between innings to loosen up the arm. Pitchers will throw before the game as well between 20-40 pitches depending on the age group of the baseball athletes. Let’s take a starting pitcher that is 13 years old for example using these numbers. This pitcher throws 30 throws before the game,
and pitches 4 innings. The pitch count for those 4 innings is 60 pitches which does not seem like a lot, right? Now let’s add back the pregame and in between innings throws. 60 (live game) + 30 (pregame) + 20 (in between innings) for a total of 110 pitches. Just because a baseball athletes “only threw 4 innings and 60 pitches” does not mean that there are not extra stresses placed on the shoulder and elbow.

I went to a high school baseball game last week and the starting pitcher threw 115 live pitches in 6 innings before he was pulled because he was dropping in velocity and missing his spots. Let’s take these same numbers as above and add them in. 115 (live game) + 30 (pregame) + 30 (in between innings) for a total of 175 pitches. This is an insane amount of throwing volume for one game and is way too much.

Coaches please think twice about using pitch counts as the only way to measure performance and fatigue. One of the biggest risk factors for injury is throwing under fatigue. If a pitcher is
dropping in velocity and missing his spots, it is time to pull him. One game is not worth pushing an athlete to their limit and have them miss time off with an overuse injury.

Comeback Performance helps baseball athletes eliminate pain, optimize throwing mechanics, and maximize potential. Comeback Performance is unlike any other physical therapy practice and specializes in the transition from traditional physical therapy to the playing field, by bridging the gap between rehab and performance. “The Comeback is Always Stronger Than
the Setback.”

Schedule a free discovery call and we can set up a plan to schedule a throwing evaluation and discover the WHY behind the injury in the first place and improve throwing mechanics, improve
baseball performance, and keep baseball athletes healthy long term.