Mike at RAB asked this question yesterday, and this is what he found:
The crew at Baseball Prospectus developed a stat called Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP), which is intended to measure … well … pitcher abuse. You can read a ton more about PAP here, but it’s calculated by cubing each pitch a guy throws past 100 in a start, and just summing up the “points.” So if Sabathia throws 105 pitches in a start, his PAP is 125 (five pitches cubed, or 5 x 5 x 5). Justin Verlander is the far and away the most abused pitcher in the game this season, checking in at 85,763 PAP. CC ranks 8th with 45,585 PAP, while AJ’s 31,387 PAP is good for 17th.
Of course, the better a pitcher is, the more likely that a team will let him stay out there deep into games and rack up a high pitch count. However, even if we take the PAP stat at face value, BP writers themselves are beginning to question the 100 pitch limit:
Similarly, the obsession with the nice round number of 100 has become less a line of death as much as a suggestion. As Rany Jazayerli noted in 2004, it’s better to think of 120 pitches as the count at which people really should be concerned……The general rule of thumb is for a pitcher to avoid getting worked too heavily before his age-24 season, but as Wood’s experience reflects, teams have only so much control over younger pitchers. Because of service-time considerations (not to mention overspecialization in bullpen roles), clubs also are reluctant to follow the old Earl Weaver rule of breaking in future starting pitchers in middle relief, instead targeting the age range in which they’ll get those first six seasons before free agency with any premium prospect.
Similarly, there’s a better understanding that not all pitch counts are created equal. Throwing 100 pitches in three innings is a lot more taxing than 100 pitches in seven — it’s pretty obvious that such a tally in so short a time means the guy is struggling, allowing baserunners and dealing with the added stress of throwing from the stretch.
What does this mean? It means that not all pitchers were created equal, and not all pitch counts should be treated equally. Just blindly cubing any pitches past 100 plays right into the arbitrary cut-off point that has no basis in reality. The key is determine when a pitcher begins to lose effectiveness due to fatigue, and prevent the pitcher from continuing past that point. Hopefully Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland are beginning to identify that point for the Yankees two star pitchers, and are removing them prior to any real danger point.
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