Dave · September 14, 2004 at 9:57 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A bunch of commentors picked up on this in the previous Madritsch post and they’re dead on. Bob Melvin is managing the pitching staff like he knows he’s going to be fired. After tonight’s 123 pitch effort, coming on the heels of a 126 pitch effort, Madritsch is averaging 114.8 pitches per start. That leads the majors, folks. Here’s the list:

1. Bobby Madritsch, 114.8
2. Jason Schmidt, 114.4
3. Livan Hernandez, 111.5
4. Carlos Zambrano, 111.0
5. Barry Zito, 108.0
6. Joel Pineiro, 107.00

Now, it’s only over 8 starts and pitch counts in and of themselves aren’t evidence of overwork, but this is clearly not exercising any sort of caution. There’s absolutely no reason Bobby Madritsch should be leading the majors in pitches per start. None.

Everyone knows Melvin is gone at the end of the year. He knows it. If he’s going to manage the team with no interest in protecting the 2005 Mariners, he should be removed immediately.


28 Responses to “Workloads”

  1. Chris W. on September 14th, 2004 10:06 pm

    The most frustrating part of this is that Melvin isn’t managing the team like he isn’t going to be part of it next year. He’s managing the team just like he did last year. This is simply what he does, and neither he nor his bosses even recognize it as an issue. Dave, you give all the parties involved too much credit…

  2. G-Man on September 14th, 2004 10:14 pm

    After letting Meche get a CG and trying to let Madritsch get this one, I hope BoMel will back off on these two. However, he mentioned 130 as a pitch count limit after Meche’s game, so i’m afraid that’s the number he has in mind.

  3. Raymond on September 14th, 2004 10:17 pm

    I’m honestly sick of people who claim that pitching 105+ pitches is ‘okay’ for these pitchers. There’s no reason to risk their injury. The game is inconsequential, we’re not making the playoffs, so let them pitch 80-90 pitches and get them out, for the sake of the future of the team. grr.

  4. Dan on September 14th, 2004 10:23 pm

    Can anyone point to a good breakdown on pitch counts vs. injuries? I know the connection is a bit more loose than it is portrayed as being usually.

    My understanding has always been that it is pitch counts + some unquantifiable aspect of how hard the pitcher throws in relation to how hard he can comfortable throw = risk of injury. With madritsch, i really dont know his pitches (fastball, changeup, curve?) and how much he leans on the fastball; i know he gets up around 95 when he has it, and late in games he loses 3-4 mph off that.

  5. DMZ on September 14th, 2004 11:03 pm

    You read the Baseball Prospectus articles on this?

    In short: pitch counts by themselves are a risk factor, but it’s one of several, along with mechanics, fatigue, and natural proclivity to injury (some people will get injured, and some won’t, no matter how little or how much they seem to pitch).

    But the analogy I use is: it’s like speeding. If all I told you was that I drove 520 this morning at 120mmph, you’d know that was dangerous no matter what car I was driving, how good a driver I was, and so on, while if I told you I was going (say) 70 you’d start caring more about the answers to those questions: nice Volvo or crappy Citation? Pirelli P-Zero tires or bald retreads I found in a meadow?

    That’s the whole 100-120 pitch thing. Generally you’re okay. After 120 is when you should start to get really concerned. 130 is really bad, and 140+ is awful and shouldn’t ever happen.

    But look at Madritsch tonight — he stopped racking up the Ks and was working harder late in the game. That’s not a pitcher to be stretched out, and particularly, as others have mentioned, one to be put up against a solid middle-of-the-lineup with 120 pitches already under his belt.

  6. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2004 11:23 pm

    The heavy usage is a function of wanting to win the game, and having a craptastic bullpen. That ball hit to Ichiro was about 5 feet or so away from tying the game. If they had brought Putz to start the 9th, in all likelihood we lose.

    If you’re saying “play this like it’s spring training”, then OK, but realize that means the M’s will cough up late inning leads since their closer has an ERA around 5 and a half, and Melvin was pretty clear he wants to try to win by his “integrity of the pennant race” comment.

  7. Red F & F on September 15th, 2004 12:09 am

    I don’t disagree with the comment at all – I’d like to see them treat Madritsch with more caution – but isn’t his pitch count average kind of flukish, or freakish? His shortest outing in 8 starts has been 6 innings, and all of the others have been 7+, if I heard Niehaus correctly this evening. If he’d had the normal bad start or two, then at least he wouldn’t be leading the majors in this statistic.

    I mean, anyone who makes 8 starts, and all 8 are as good as Madritsch’s have been, is going to have a very high pitch count average…. (I’ll bet he isn’t leading the majors in “pitch count average per start exceeding quality level x” – choose the x).

    Then again, contra my own point, how on earth did Pineiro make number 6 on this list, with the crappy starts he had? Also contra my point, it does seem to me that Melvin is slow to take out guys who have begun well, but started to get hit around the 5th or 6th. (Like when Franklin hits the inevitable “runs flowing like water” stretch).

    Finally, given the state of the Mariner bullpen, can you imagine what Madritsch’s pitch count average would be if Sweet Lou were still the skipper?

  8. Jerry on September 15th, 2004 12:14 am


    I noticed the same thing. He didn’t look strong in the 8th. He shouldn’t have come out in the 9th. It was not at all like Meche the other day, as he seemed strong late in the game, and was still throwing hard in the 9th. I still think that they should have taken out Meche in the 8th also, but mismanagement was more blatant.

    There is no way to justify that. It is risking the health of a young pitcher with a history of arm trouble. Fatigue was making him pitch bad, so it would have been better to bring in a reliever if the goal was to win the game.

    I am also pissed off that Madritsch ended up getting 2 earned runs because of Melvin’s ineptitude. The guy pitched a great game. They should have brought in someone else to finish it off. Regardless of whether it is Putz.

    If we loose, we are just that much closer to Justin Upton.

  9. Colm on September 15th, 2004 12:24 am

    Of all the stupid, STUPID comments I have read this season about the Mariners, that “integrity of the pennant race” crock has irritated me more than any other.

    Three reasons:

    1. Playing the underachieving veterans who got us into this 0.375 mess obviously does not mean that you are fielding a competitive team. (How might Hiram Bocachica in CF and Willie Bloomquist at first make ANY team better?)

    2. Since we’re playing almost the entire month of September against the Red Sox, Angels, A’s and Rangers it would not matter what lineup the management put on the field so long as it was roughly the same each night.

    3. Why should it matter to us for fifteen seconds what the A’s, Angels, Red Sox and Rangers think of the Mariners? Seattle didn’t build a half billion dollar stadium, and the fans buy close to three million tickets, to support an organization that would be well thought of by its sporting rivals while they were beating it up seven games out of every ten. We absolutely need to do what is best for this team and to hell with the rest of the AL West – they aren’t going to like us anyway.

    That means: Taking a good look at Dobbs at third and Reed in CF; keeping Madritsch and Meche to a strict 100 pitch count for the rest of the season; and polishing a nice spot for Willie Bloomquist’s bum on the end of the dugout bench where he can spend the last three weeks of his major league career keeping company with Cabrera and Bocachica.

  10. Conor Glassey on September 15th, 2004 1:19 am

    Another fine start from Madritsch, but it does look like Melvin’s trying to make his arm fall off! Let’s all be thankful that BoMel won’t be around to kill King Felix. It’s also interesting to note that “new” Gil Meche would also make Dave’s list, averaging 116 pitches per start in his 8 starts during August and September. I did a complete breakdown on pitches per start for the entire season, and here are the totals:

    Starters used: 5
    Low pitch count in a game: 62 (Franklin)
    High pitch count in a game: 115 (Garcia)
    Avg. pitches per start (PPS): 100.1

    Starters used: 5
    Low: 38 (Meche)
    High: 126 (Franklin)
    PPS: 104.3

    Starters used: 7
    Low: 73 (Meche)
    High: 121 (Pineiro)
    PPS: 99.7

    Starters used: 6
    Low: 23 (Moyer)
    High: 115 (Moyer/Pineiro x2)
    PPS: 97.2

    Starters used: 6
    Low: 49 (Nageotte)
    High: 125 (Meche)
    PPS: 105

    Starters used: 5
    Low: 83 (Baek)
    High: 129 (Meche)
    PPS: 106.9

  11. IceX on September 15th, 2004 1:50 am

    IMO, Meche’s game against Boston was fine… There was really only one inning where he strained, and that was the 6th where he had guys on the corners… And he blew through that anyways. Meche’s last pitch was 95 MPH and he had good control for most of the 9th.

    Tonight was a little different… Mads looked like he was straining in the 8th and the 9th was a lost cause. He was noticeably pitching on fumes.

    But overall, I think pitch counts are a tad overrated, even though they are indeed a major part of the equation. Considering you’ve got guys like Sasaki (and probably the entire NPB) pitching 100 pitches in between days and doing relatively fine, organizations that kiddie glove everyone and the Atlanta Braves Organization under Leo Mazzone pitching 2 bullpen sessions between starts instead of 1, all with mixed results, there’s a lot we simply don’t know about pitching injuries.

    IMO, tangentially, Blackley and Soriano are both down because of too little pitching. Soriano was an OF for much of his career, and I’m willing to bet that Australian kids don’t pitch as much as their American, Hispanic or Japanese counterparts. Result: weaker pitching stress points.

  12. rcc on September 15th, 2004 7:16 am

    Melvin should be fired for the stupid nicknames he uses…..Leo for Leone, etc. It is hard to respect a dork….particularly a dork who can not manage a ball club.

  13. Pat Gillick's Hemorrhoids on September 15th, 2004 7:54 am

    Melvin should be fired and should be fired right now. Let Lachemann take over; it doesn’t matter at this point. The season is over, there’s no reason to waste our kids arms.

    At this rate, Madritsch will have a nice blowout next year due to his overuse.

  14. tyler on September 15th, 2004 8:57 am

    on pitching counts… i don’t have the info here at school, but there was a red sox blog/board that had a series of questions answered by Curt Schilling. I learned more about baseball in the two weeks I read that than in several years of playing/coaching.

    One of the things Schilling said was along the lines of pitch-count doesn’t matter, it is the type of pitching. For instance, he said if he has to “go into the well” more than once in the first 5 innings, he is going to exit the game early, and that those… say, 85 pitches are much more of a strain than 120 in an easy coasting game.

    Now, i’m not saying Bobby M is throwing 120 “easy” pitches, just that a hard fast number is really not such a critical thing as having form and the pitch selection.

    With my frosh, I’ve had a couple kids throw 120 pitches in a game, but both times, I asked the parents (who were present) if they minded if i put their son out there another inning. In each case, the player was throwing only fastballs with no curves (though trying to “change up” their fastball speed.) It was simply a case of the player feeling good and the team being out of pitchers.

    Oh, and before I get persecuted, I do keep a close count, and it was late in the year and both had built up arm strength and both felt fine both immediately after and the next day/week/month.

    That being said, I don’t think Bobby should go over 110. And I generally pull kids at 85, and don’t let them start a new inning over 90 unless they are flat out dealing and not laboring.

    And I’ve never had an injury. But I also don’t let them throw many curves, and our varsity pitching coach is teaching all our pitches a change instead of curve as their 2nd pitch. Less arm strain, better mechanics.

  15. Metz on September 15th, 2004 10:02 am

    Kudos to you for teaching kids the changeup instead of the curve as an off speed pitch. I was amazed how many kids in the little league world series were throwing the curve as their primary pitch. No way those kids should be doing anything other than learning how to locate their fastball and changing speeds with a changeup. I still think anything over 100 pitches is too much until the growth plates in the arm get a chance to solidify. I was also amazed how horrible the windups were for most of the kids in the LLWS also. Lots of complicated, over twisting, windups.

  16. tyler on September 15th, 2004 10:46 am

    I agree with the most part about the 100 pitch count, and generally keep it below 90. However, I’ve never included warm-up pitches in that, which some people do count. If you include 8 warm-ups per inning, plus pre-game, you’ll find many high school pitchers that “supposedly” pitch 80-90 actually go 160 or more pitches.

    Oh, and my TA last period was one of the guys that i threw 120 once. It was for the league championship, and he actually picked up velocity the last 2 innings. He wasn’t laboring (it was about 90 degrees outside, which is a little talked about factor as well.)

    Of course, he was a 6’2″ 195 pound beast that went to CIF (our “state championship”) in wrestling his frosh and sophomore years. He also informed me that he has never in his life had a sore arm. He will be our #4/5 pitcher this year. (But he will fight for 1b/3b)

    Oh, and our pitching coach (Joe Denny) two years ago was pitching coach for Granite Hills? Falls? in Sacramento. They had a 4 man rotation, each guy threw a change as their 2nd pitch, and they went nearly undefeated and rolled through the competition.

    Last year our pitchers far over-achieved what we expected with him on the staff, and his pitch calling was a big part of it. He also doesn’t throw the high fastball as a “waste” pitch at 0 or 1-2 counts. He instead nibbles the corners. The theory is that it is harder for a highschool kid to maintain control when you ask him to change release points like that.

    He does a lot of “pitching backwards”.. changes at 0-0, corner fastball 0-2, etc.

    And my personal opinion is little league should ban the curveball. But then, daddy can’t live vicariously through his son’s great out-pitch that he taught him at 8 years old and junior has been honing for 4 years. Yuck.

    If you teach your son a curve before the age of 13 you should also have to pay Dr. Frank Jobe out of your own pocket, instead of using insurance.

  17. jc on September 15th, 2004 1:05 pm

    I have no problem with higher pitch counts if the games matter we are 30 games back BLOWMEL the guy is gonna ruin these guys!!Last year everyone thought it was great that we only used 5 starters all year.Well a year later moyer hasnt got anyone out ditto franklin,meche was in the minors freddy had too miss some starts with a bad muscle in arm and joel there is a huge question mark over his head and arm….IS THIS A COINCIDENCE????I DONT THINK SO..LET ME HERE YA WHAT YOU THINK.

  18. Coach on September 15th, 2004 1:06 pm


    Good post. I agree that a strict focus on the cumulative total really misses the mark. I have noticed that with my guys the count per inning plays a big part. If I have a pitcher go 24-30 pitches in any one inning then he will definitely tire sooner than if his max for any one inning is 15-17. Even if I have a guy go two innings at 6 or 7 each, I still see a drop off after a subsequent 25-30 pitch inning.

    For bull pen sessions, I have my guys go ~45 pitches to get loose, then we throw 4 simulated innings at 25 pitches each (with rest between each inning, and 5-8 warm-ups to start innings 2-4). With some guys, I will also go 5 simulated innings at 20 pitches each. My goal is to get a guy to a plateau where one long inning doesn’t take all the starch out of him.

    I have gone with three bullpen sessions per week until games start even with two of my own sons. I have NEVER even had a sore arm. So I don’t buy into the strict limit philosphy without consideration for “stress pitches” or “stress innings”.

    I know of at least one College program where a strong kid can throw 1000 pitches in the course of a day. If you have attended any Tom House camps, you will know that he teaches no particular pitch is any more stressful on the arm/shouldr than another, if proper mechanics are used.

    This is the area where the Mariner’s seem to be putting their young arms at risk. I would rather see them invest in biometric analysis than to rely solely on pitch counts. I have noticed that JJ Putz lets his front side break down badly on breaking balls which results in his pushing the ball down into the ground. In addition, he may be tipping that pitch, since his front side is a little stronger on the fast ball.

    By the way, none of this changes the fact that Mr. Melvin should start his off-season today. There is no sound Baseball reason to keep him the rest of this dismal season. No, he is not the only problem, more like the tip of the iceberg, but it is time to turn the page.

  19. tyler on September 15th, 2004 2:13 pm

    great post by you too, coach.

    The Tom House thing is interesting, but I was never a pitcher and find myself to be not that knowledgeable about pitchers. I can call a decent game, but can’t really advise them technically. Because of that, I avoid the curve at my level.

    Plus that way they develop further in the other two pitches and if they can have success w/o a curveball early and get it at the V level, then a 3 pitch hs pitcher can be devastating!

    I too notice that when you get to the upper twenties if it isn’t inning one or two, the well runs dry early. With the natural wildness of frosh though, I’ll actually give a guy a very wide leash early and tighten after 3. But that goes back to the Schilling “into the well” thing. After a tough inning, the reservoir is dry and he isn’t gonna go the distance.

  20. Dave on September 15th, 2004 2:35 pm

    I’ve read a lot of stuff by Tom House and those who support his methods. I’ve read almost all of Mike Marshall’s stuff. I’ve talked extensively with pitchers in high school, college, and the minors. I’ve spent many, many hours talking with minor league pitching coaches.

    My basic conclusion; everyone is spitting in the wind. No one has pitcher health figured out, or even anything close to it. There are lots of anecdotal stories of success for every possible method you could think of, from House’s programs to Marshall’s mechanical changes to the old-school work-em-like-dogs routine. Put in practice, though, only the A’s of the 2000-2003 seasons seem to have actually had any success at keeping a significant number of arms healthier than would be expected. That success hasn’t continued this year in Oakland, so maybe it’s just Rick Peterson, though the whole Victor Zambrano thing makes you scratch your head.

    My take on pitcher injuries; understand that we’re all ignorant and respond accordingly. If you’re in a pennant race and think that a 130 pitch outing from Jason Schmidt might get you in the playoffs, screw the pitcher abuse theories and hope you’re right. But, if you have absolutely nothing to play for, why take the risk? In totality, pitchers who throw less pitches appear to get hurt less often, so you might as well error on the side of caution. The M’s are putting themselves in the higher risk category without any possibility of a real reward. That’s foolish.

  21. Fledermaus on September 15th, 2004 2:37 pm

    Everyone knows Melvin is gone at the end of the year. He knows it.

    I hope so. I was screaming at the TV last night in the 7th inning. M’s are up and the first batter rips a lead off double. Up next TND Wilson – I think we all know what’s coming next – yup sac bunt. This was doubly stupid because the next two batters are Lopez and Bloomquist. Yes, really. Lopez predictably can’t even get it out of the infield, two outs runner still on third.

    Here comes the shocker – Melvin’s actually going to let Bloomquist hit . Oh but the stupidity doesn’t end, Socia (sp?) apparently trembling with fear of the almighty left handed bat of Bloomquist brings in a righty. Now Melvin brings in Winn – he hits a homer and the announcers fall all over themselves praising Melvin’s good use of strategy.

    Ugh, “No it was not good strategy” I yell to them (and my cat) “he was going to let Bloomquist hit” And then I bang my head against the wall for the next 5 minutes.

  22. Fledermaus on September 15th, 2004 2:39 pm

    Whoops, mixed up the whole righty-lefty thing in the last post (Note to self: stop banging head against wall)

  23. Coach on September 15th, 2004 3:11 pm


    I thought the same thing in the 7th. My wife tells me I have to stop yelling at the TV. I’ll tell her it saves the walls.

  24. Dave on September 15th, 2004 4:43 pm

    If it was Bobby Madritsch at the plate, would you have complained about the sac bunt?

    The current incarnation of Dan Wilson is so pathetic at the plate (.171/.235/.197 since the all-star break) that he’s essentially the same offensive value as a pitcher. Bunting with him has ceased to be a bad idea. There’s a 77 percent chance he’s going to make an out and an 83 % chance he won’t get a hit. Move the runner over.

  25. Coach on September 15th, 2004 6:10 pm


    Might I suggest that you missed the point Fledermaus was raising? “Moving the runner over” also resulted in an out. For a team like the Mariners, who seem to need four hits to score a run, outs carry a higher premium than for some other teams who rally in different fashion. If you insist on looking at the situation only from a statistical standpoint, then you need to evaluate what the next two hitters are likely to do with only one available out as opposed to two available outs. As Fledermaus pointed out, Melvin was going to let Bloomquist hit.

    I have managed enough games to appreciate that there are multiple ways to handle any given situation. None of them are no-brainers, they all hinge on execution in some way. The point is that the Field Manager should not make the decision to sacrifice in a vacuum. He needs to evaluate the ability of the next two batters to make the situation productive.

    Actually, the stats you cite and the logic I infer from your post, indicate that you should pinch hit for Wilson, NOT give up an out.

  26. Adam on September 15th, 2004 11:59 pm

    Where the heck are Wood & Prior on this list? Russ Ortiz?

    Anyway, I wouldn’t worry too much. At some point, hitters will figure out Madritch and we’ll be complaining that he’s not even getting in 50 pitches a start. The reason he has a high pitch count now is because he hasn’t had a few poor starts (ex. taken out early). I think this will have a lot of effect, that is unless he manages to throw 50 pitches an inning in those poor starts.

  27. Paul Weaver on September 16th, 2004 12:35 pm

    Yeah, but that’s still a lot of pitches. Esp for a “young” guy.

    Pitchers bunt for a SH, but they also have the #1 and #2 hitters coming up behind them.

  28. Conor Glassey on September 16th, 2004 2:18 pm

    Adam –
    Prior and Wood aren’t that close, coming in at 95 and 98.5, respectively, while Russ Ortiz averages 103.6 pitches per start.