Masahiro Tanaka and All Those Pitches
It’s anyone’s guess as to what Tanaka will get but it’s almost certainly going to be north of 100 million dollars. It’s been interesting to watch the dichotomy between GM’s wanting to sign him to a big deal and the same GM’s not wanting to sign him to a big deal due to concerns about the volume of pitches he’s thrown over his career. I wouldn’t worry about his arm. He’s been training that arm his entire life. That’s the problem with pitchers today. They can’t throw deep into a game because they don’t have the arm strength to do it.
While I was in Oregon visiting friends this Summer I watched a Little League game that my friend’s son was playing in. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The game was totally dominated by the pitch count. The game was basically just a merry go round of pitchers coming and going. One kid was lights out but was gone after 5 hitters. My buddy’s team lost because he miscalculated the number of pitchers he was using and had to use like the 9th best pitcher on the team in the final inning and the kid walked a couple of hitters and then gave up the game winning hit, a crushed ball that hit the wall out in center field. And this was a regional championship game…..
If this is how pitcher’s arms are now conditioned in the United States then it’s no wonder they can barely throw 100 pitches in a game even if they’re pitching well.
Back in the late 70’s I was one of 2 starting pitchers we had on our team that won the city championship. Either I pitched a complete game or Steve pitched a complete game. I have a hazy memory of getting relieved once in a game we were dominating. We lost one game that year–Steve was sick so Kendall had to pitch and he got lit up. He got relieved by our first baseman, I think.
The point is that we have pitchers on strict pitch counts now because we’ve trained arms down to the need for pitch counts. And that’s just dumb.
Tanaka’s arm will be fine.