Looking to kill some time? Stare at the wall or argue about pitch counts. It doesn’t really matter, because each activity will leave you shaking your head when you decide to rejoin society.
Yu Darvish tossed 130 pitches in eight innings against the Tigers on Thursday despite the Rangers leading 10-4. Manager Ron Washington’s decision to leave Darvish in the game for so long has been a talking point ever since, but the whole debate is fruitless.
Baseball fans, coaches, players, pundits and statisticians have spent countless hours in recent years tossing in their two cents about the importance — or lack thereof — of hard-and-fast pitch counts and innings limits. Yet after sifting through all sorts of empirical data, bickering about individual scenarios and listening to plenty of stories about “how the game used to be,” we haven’t arrived at one universal rule or line of logic that makes total sense. We never will, and therefore making a firm determination on Darvish’s outing against the Tigers is downright impossible.
Every pitcher’s body is different. Every start, whether it be because of stressful situations or the types of pitches thrown over the course of the outing, is different. Every situation is different. Blah. Blah. Blah. Long story short: How long a pitcher stays in the game is something that should be determined on a case-by-case basis. No numbers, case studies, past scenarios or tall tales should override how a pitcher feels, how effective he’s been and what the situation in question calls for.
That’s why criticizing Washington as if he did something completely egregious is not only unfair, but it’s also ridiculous. We can hold Washington’s feet to the fire all we want, but then what is our end game? Are we simply making it a point to grill Washington on his managerial decision so that we have a leg to stand on if Darvish suddenly fizzles out in the second half?
Looking at the situation as a whole, there are a ton of people — myself included — who would have turned to the bullpen after Darvish threw 115 pitches through seven innings. That decision has nothing to do with pitch counts, per se, but a lot to do with whether rolling Darvish back out there with a six-run lead was all that necessary. Without being in the dugout alongside Darvish on Thursday, though, it’s stupid to definitively say, “Mr. Washington, you crossed the line.”
We can debate pitch counts and innings limits until the cows come home, and then keep a watchful eye on the cows’ workload once they enter the equation. But the topic, especially as it pertains to Darvish’s outing, is way too subjective to lay the hammer down on Washington.
Agreeing with or disagreeing with Washington’s decision is one thing. Making a big stink about a few extra pitches is another.