MLB Teams Should Limit Their Pitchers In The WBC

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Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The WBC Tournament runs from Mar..2-19/2013

The WBC Tournament runs from Mar..2-19/2013.

Sam Evans (Baseball Writer):   

Yovani Gallardo threw the most pitches in the National League last year, with 3,480 pitches thrown in his 33 starts. To imagine him throwing even more pitches, for a team other than the one that owes him just under $20 Million over the next two years, seems pretty far-fetched. Nonetheless, Gallardo will be pitching for Team Mexico in the 2012 World Baseball Classic this March. The issue of how Major League teams should react to their player’s decisions regarding their play in the WBC will be an underlying storyline throughout the next couple of months. It depends on the situation, but for the most part, it seems clear that by teams limiting their pitcher’s playing time in the WBC, they are making the best decision not only for the team, but for the pitcher as well. 

Yovani Gallardo Highlights:

Gallardo is a key to the Brewers ascending the standings in 2013.  He is 69-43 (.616) Career so Far with a 3.63 ERA.  He just falls short of being labelled a top 10 pitcher.  The Brewers have to worried to death about an injury to their /1 Hurler

Gallardo is a key to the Brewers ascending the standings in 2013. He is 69-43 (.616) Career so far with a 3.63 ERA. He just falls short of being labelled a top 10 pitcher. The Brewers have to worried to death about an injury to their #1 Hurler throwing in the WBC.

There has been some recent data that I’ve seen floating around the internet, that suggests that by teams allowing their players to play in the Classic, the players chance of being injured actually decreases. The study shows that in 2009, a year with the 2nd ever WBC, 17.8% non-WBC participants spent time on the DL in April, compared with only 9.5% of WBC participants. The WBC has only been happened twice, so it seems way too early to look at statistics regarding the health of WBC players. While this could be shed some light on the situation for some hitters, I find this hard to believe for pitchers. A pitcher’s arm is a sacred thing. In no way does adding more innings to its yearly toll make it more healthy. 

In 2013, the WBC will be featuring new and improved restrictions on pitcher’s workloads. Pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches in First-Round Pool play, 80 pitches in the second round and 95 pitches in the semifinals and finals, down from 75-85-100 four years ago. This is a great move by the WBC. By limiting the number of pitches teams are allowed to throw one pitcher, the chance of injury decreases. One of the most common times for a pitcher to get injured is when he is working late in a game and his pitch count is rising rapidly. Still, perhaps the single most likely time for a pitcher to get injured is right when he starts pitching. Even by limiting the pitcher’s pitch count, pitching in the WBC is still a very risky business. 

From October to Spring Training, pitchers should be resting their arm and shoulder muscles, improving their flexibility, and adding strength to their lower half. Once Spring Training starts, pitchers should be gradually working their body up to being ready for the first day of the Regular Season. However, pitchers have been competing during the offseason in winter leagues pretty much from day one. As the saying goes, “baseball never sleeps”. There truly is no offseason in baseball these days, no matter what position you play. For this reason, pitchers should be able to pitch for their countries in the World Baseball Classic. 

MLB teams need to limit their young pitcher’s Innings Pitched during the offseason. Daisuke Matsuzaka was never quite the same after his body took a toll following the 2009 World Baseball Classic. After the 2006 WBC, Jake Peavy, Francisco Liriano, and Dontrelle Willis all saw themselves struggle mightily after returning back from the WBC. Especially for those who have yet to play more than three years in professional baseball, MLB needs to find a way to make sure these pitcher’s aren’t overworked during this International Tournament. As Michael Echan wrote for Fangraphs back in 2010, “the World Baseball Classic is an excellent idea, but is poorly executed in its current form, with pitchers suffering the most damage.” Unless the WBC and MLB can figure out a way to combat their current stance regarding letting MLB pitchers play in the WBC, MLB teams should continue to try to convince to stay away from the WBC.

For some pitchers, like Yu Darvish in 2009, the WBC can be a great way to get noticed internationally.

For some pitchers, like Yu Darvish in 2009, the WBC can be a great way to get noticed internationally.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter 

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on February 3, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball, World Baseball Classic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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