Pitch counts are limits on how many throws starting pitchers have. The rule was created as an effort to lessen pitcher injuries. A study published by NCBI admits that, although small, the number of past pitches thrown negatively impacts a pitcher’s future performance. Managing their pitching ensures better plays moving forward.
ESPN.com paints the pitch count as a team effort: Managers still have the pitchers that want to pitch on the mound while giving their starters the necessary recuperation time. There’s also the idea that player abuse will lessen should a cap be placed on how long those with golden arms are on the mound.
Pitch counts are also beneficial for more junior players. Science Daily notes that more than half of high school baseball players report a pain in their throwing arms. Researchers pinpointed the connection between overuse of muscles and the pain. Recovery time is essential not only to a player’s health, but their overall performance.
Pulling a professional athlete out of a game to avoid hurting themselves is kind of like the athlete’s form of a nanny state. For example, in 2016 Dodger’s rookie Ross Stripling was pulled out of a no-hitter performance when he hit his limit, robbing him of a chance of making team history (and the Dodgers of the game).
Contradictory to previous conclusions, one study found pitch counts have virtually no effect on pitcher injuries at all. The study’s lead author, Thomas Karakolis, claims that there are so many more factors tied into pitcher injury, the correlation between pitch counts and decreased player harm is too little to be of any significance.
Bleacher Report also points out that although starting pitchers work less than those in the past, the number of elbow ligament surgeries—or “Tommy Johns”—have exponentially increased. It would appear, as ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian once said, “[That] the less they throw, the more they get hurt.”