Clayton Kershaw wants to chuck the pitch count

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Clayton Kershaw stretch.jpgLike most young hurlers, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is subject to a pitch count. He’d prefer that he not be:

“This year I don’t think there should be that 100-pitch thing. If there was a
pitch count last year, I think this year there should be no
restrictions, no holds barred, I should pitch as long as I can. That’s
what I’m hoping for. That’s just what I feel.”

Rick Honeycutt said that the Dodgers would not “take the gloves off.”  Which, given that Kershaw is 21 years old, is the wise move given recent history. You gotta monitor and limit the workload of young arms.

Still, I agree with Kershaw on one point, and that’s the arbitrary nature of a 100 pitch count in and of itself.  The point should be to not let pitchers get fatigued or overworked, as people who study this stuff suspect that throwing on a tired arm — thus messing with mechanics and muscles and labrums and things — is when the real damage is done.  Isn’t it entirely possible that the fatigue point can come at pitch 79 on a particular afternoon? And that some days a guy is free and easy at 105 or 110?

Maybe this is way easier said than done, but if I had a young horse like Kershaw I’d devote someone — maybe my bench coach; they don’t seem to do anything — to become an expert in his mechanics, tells for fatigue and that sort of thing rather than simply relying on the automatic 100-pitches-and-you’re-out rule that has come to pervade the thinking on this subject.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.