High school pitching staffs challenged with new rule

PITCHING RULES: The MHSAA has installed pitch count guidelines for high school pitchers across the state. (Pioneer file photo)

PITCHING RULES: The MHSAA has installed pitch count guidelines for high school pitchers across the state. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — When the weather allows high school baseball teams to get into full swing, coaches will be challenged with a new rule applying to pitchers, as changed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, which covers the use of pitchers in baseball games.

According to the rule, pitchers will be allowed to throw no more than 105 pitches in one day and will be required to rest three days if they throw more than 75.
The rule adds that pitchers must rest two days after throwing 51-to-75 pitches and one day after throwing 26-to-50. No rest will be required if pitchers throw 25 or fewer pitches.

The MHSAA noted the rule change was adopted at the urging of the National Federation of State High School Associations and is an attempt to reduce arm injuries.

Area coaches acknowledge the rule will challenge them to keep an eye on their pitchers and also to develop more depth in their rotations.

“The new pitch count rule is going to change high school baseball in that a team is going to have to have many more pitchers that can throw,” Morley Stanwood coach Bob Raven said. “Although the old rule of  ‘outs’ had restriction limits, I believe the pitch count will restrict even more. We are looking at a very extended pitching staff going into this season.”

“First off, I’m good with any rule that is intended to protect players,” Evart coach Josh Johnson said. “A baseball team’s success will always depend on the depth of your pitching. I do think this rule will certainly help to make that evident. You always want to be deep in the pitching department. I think this rule makes it so teams will have to be deep in order to succeed.”

I think it’s a good thing for our athletes, which should be our main concern,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “It will be difficult for some coaches to carry out as many already have to do their own scorebook. Now they will have to find someone to keep an accurate pitch count; this may be difficult.”

Various teams could be challenged by the rule in various ways.

“How it will affect games this season is anyone’s guess at this point,” Raven said. “ There will definitely be strategies developed in terms of using pitchers. We will focus on throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters in the count.

“I would say it is going to affect the teams that relied on one or two guys to log most of the pitching duties.”

“I don’t think it will have much of an impact on our season, as I’m guessing we would have been in compliance last season,” Ruppert said. “We didn’t have anyone throw over 100 pitches and I gave them above and beyond rest most of the time. I like the fact that JV games and incomplete games also count now. Previously, suspended games and non-varsity games did not have to be included on your pitching charts.

“Initially, this will be harder for us to track and more difficult for us to be in compliance. But after we use it for a while, it will become second nature. Electronic scoring programs already keep pitch counts. So if you use one of these, you will be ahead of the curve.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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