Felix and Pitch Counts
The good news:
8 innings, 5 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 14 groundballs, 4 flyballs. All on a night where the strike zone, was, well, we need an image to represent this accurately:
| Normal |
| Strike |
| Zone |
|_ | <—– tonight’s strike zone
Season line: 29 innings, 16 H, 4 BB, 30 K, 1.24 ERA. Still hasn’t allowed an extra base hit.
The bad news: 115 pitches
So, I guess we need to do a post on pitch counts, which is still one of the most controversial subjects in baseball. We’ll do a longer post on it soon, especially as pitch limits relate to Felix. For now, here’s a summary:
If this is a trend, it’s bad. If it’s an isolated incident, it isn’t a big deal. Felix was rolling in the 7th and the 8th, throwing just as hard as he was early in the game, and his mechanics were fine. He didn’t appear tired, and pitching tired is the most plausible of the pitcher injury theories. The “the game doesn’t matter” belief flies a lot better with fans who have given up on the season than with a manager or the ballclub. Try telling Mike Hargrove that this game “didn’t matter”. He knew Felix was his best pitcher, and sending him out there gave him the best chance to win tonight’s game.
If he had thrown 100 pitches, I doubt anyone would have cared. 105, maybe a few people, but it wouldn’t have been a big deal. So, really, the concern is over the last 10-15 pitches.
If you believe that there’s some magical injury demon that crops up from pitch 101 and on, well, you shouldn’t. But there clearly is evidence that higher pitch counts correlate with pitcher injuries. And the M’s should be careful with Felix. He shouldn’t regularly get over 100 pitches the rest of the year.
But as a one time thing? It’s not a big deal. Don’t freak out, and don’t call for heads to roll. If the M’s manage Felix well the rest of the year, this won’t have any kind of impact on his career at all.
If he’s regularly throwing 115 pitches the rest of the year, however, I’ll lead the charge on Safeco Field myself.