With Aroldis Chapman moving to the starting rotation this spring, the absurdity that is “innings count” will no doubt be in play. As the trend has now been established it looks as though everyone is following as though they are in a cultic trance, lining up at the kool-aid dispenser.
The Washington Nationals just played that card last season with ace Stephen Strasburg. That may have actually been warranted though as he was returning from Tommy John surgery. A year or so earlier the Reds did the same thing with rookie Mike Leake. Hitting a wall, they called it.
Where was the wall when Stan Bahnsen won the American League Rookie-of-the-Year award in 1968 with the New York Yankees? The kid (he was 23) pitched 267 innings had a 2.05 ERA and recorded 17 wins.
The “old school” is just dying to crawl out of me onto the keyboard and thus into this article. For God’s sake, they count everything today. Dear God, I can’t hold back much longer. A pitcher throws 100 pitchers and the manager walks out to the mound with the hook in his hand. Here it is.
You would think these guys were little leaguers today the way they are pampered. If they want to control the pitch count, how about eliminating the 72 (per game) or so warm-up tosses the pitcher throws between innings?
If you are younger than 45 you are probably shaking your head, looking at your screen and creating an image of me as a caveman and looking up at the rainbow which happens to be black and white.
I know things are different now and rainbows are in color and TV is run by electricity and not by gas. Cool, I get it. Teams prior to the seventies had a four-man pitching rotation and therefore they received more starts, thus more innings pitched.
News flash! Innings then = innings now. Bahnsen completed 10 games in ’68 as a rookie. Roy Oswalt, former Reds killer has 20 CG in his 12 year career.
Relief pitching is a specialized talent now, duh. In days past the bullpen was fashioned with starters who weren’t good enough to start anymore.
Starting to digress…let’s get back to the point I am making. Aroldis Chapman is 24 and is in very good condition. I am told he could probably give Drew Stubbs a good race from home to first. There appears to be nothing lacking in his physical makeup.
Do you think his arm will fall off if he pitches 175 innings instead of 165? Of course it won’t. I doubt seriously if his career would be shortened by him throwing until the season ended. I am sure the Nats would loved to have had Strasburg to pitch in the playoffs.
I have taken the liberty of preparing for you a chart showing some Rookies-of-the-Year who pitched a great deal more than 165 innings in their initial campaign, with their ages attached.
ROOKIES OF THE YEAR WITH 240+ INNINGS PITCHED
Of course Seaver went on to grace the Hall of Fame with his portfolio. As an aside, here is a bit of a history lesson, Don Newcombe is the only player in MLB history to have won a Rookie-of-the-Year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young award (not the same season) in their career. Strange he never made it to the Hall of Fame.
Here is what Strasburg had to say about the situation last season:
You don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to get shut down when the games start to matter…
Be completely honest with me here. Do you, not the media or the doctors or the new-age managers, do you think the Cuban Missile should “fail to launch” after a certain number of innings?