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Tim Smith of the New York Daily News doesn’t get it.

If the reader knows anything about baseball, this title insults him or her immediately. Even those with a cursory knowledge of the game know that innings limits generally apply to young pitchers just breaking into the Majors. This is obviously not the case with Felix Hernandez since he’s been around since he was 19. He may still be young, but he’s a veteran.

Although Hernandez is just 24 – the same age as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes – you don’t hear anyone with the Mariners talking about the “Felix Rules.”

Maybe, Tim, that’s because Hernandez has been pitching in the majors since 2005 (when he was 19…this just in: he’s called King Felix for a reason) and has already had his innings built up. And that was a process that didn’t happen over night. Let’s start in the minors…

In 2003 as a 17 year old splitting time at Low and Regular A, Hernandez threw 69 innings flat. In 2004 as an 18 year old at at A+ and AA, Hernandez threw 149.1 IP, for an increase of 80.1 innings; this is a pretty big increase, but not an unmanageable one. In 2005, splitting time at the majors and minors, he threw a total of 172.1 innings, a slight increase of 23 innings. In the next two years, both at the Major League level, obviously, Felix threw 191 and 190.1 innings respectively. Since then, he’s thrown back to back seasons of at least 200 innings pitched and he’s leading the league with 121.1 so far in 2010.

See that, Mr. Smith? Even with a guy as awesome as Hernandez, there was a gradual build up in innings before he was just unleashed unto the baseball world.

All young pitchers aren’t built the same. But the way that Hernandez handled the Yankees Wednesday night, you wonder if all the coddling of Chamberlain and Hughes is necessary.

These two things have nothing to do with each other. At all. The connection isn’t even tenuous.

The philosophy behind limiting the innings of a young pitcher makes sense.

I agree! But the rest of the paragraph…

I’m not a fan because it takes a mental toll that outweighs the physical benefits. Chamberlain’s psyche still may be affected, although he won’t admit it. How long will it take for him to get over it? Who knows if he’ll ever get over it?

I think the physical benefits far outweigh the supposed “mental toll” of innings limits. If a guy gets hurt the next season because he tossed too many, what good will his mental strength be then? As for Joba, well this is something everyone says. All the time. Why? Why can’t it be that he just struggled pitching? Why can’t it be that he was ineffective after reaching his career high in innings? Why is everyone so quick to make this guy out to be a mental midget because he did something that a lot of young pitchers do (struggle)?

There are plenty of cautionary tales about limiting the innings on a young pitcher’s arm – Fausto Carmona and Kerry Wood come to mind. But when you see Hernandez baffling experienced hitters such as the ones the Yankees have, you wonder about keeping the training wheels on for guys such as Chamberlain and Hughes.

The “training wheels” are off of Hernandez because this is his sixth season in the majors. And, if you’d bothered to look at his minor league and early Major League career, you’d see that he wasn’t just throwing a ton of innings right away. This just in, New York media: the Yankees and Mets aren’t the only teams that employ innings limits.

It seems that Hernandez, who entered the league at 19, has grown and learned without any specific set of rules governing the number of innings he’s pitched in the major leagues. And for one night he showed the Yankees just how much he had learned.

How does Smith know that Hernandez wasn’t on a throwing plan during his minor league career? I’d be willing to be he was. Something tells me Smith didn’t bother to ask any Mariners people about that.

3 Responses to “Shockingly Enough, Reporter Misunderstands Innings Limits”

  1. “Concerned about avoiding possible injury to their young pitcher, the Mariners declared that they would limit the number of innings Hernández pitched to 200 (counting both the regular season and spring training). This required them to skip his turn in the rotation a couple times as the season went on, after the Mariners fell out of contention. To allow him to make one last start at the end of the year, the team decided to raise the limit to 205.”

    From Wikipedia. He apparently threw 15 innings in ST, so the original limit was 185 and was raised to 190. Sorta like Hughes is at about 175.  (Quote)

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  2. Tim Smith clearly doesn’t get it. I wonder if mark fidrych thinks the mental aspect is worse than the physical aspect of resting him?  (Quote)

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  3. These articles appeal to the uneducated masses. One of my fb buddies had his status set to the “Phil Rules are a failure”. After i explained the purpose of the rules is to protect his long term prospects and expressly is sacrificing short-term output for long-term gain and that the only way the rules would have been a failure would be if the extra layoff directly lead to an arm injury he responded, but look what the rules did to Joba. Average fans (maybe espcially win-now Yankees fans) don’t look long term, don’t look at advanced metrics, don’t read this blog and simply don’t get it. That leaves the writer to try to please his auidence with articles such as the one quoted here. Maybe the author gets it and maybe he doesn’t but he is writing to the average win-now Yankee fan so maybe we shouldn’t be so harsh on him. Then again, Moshe’s wikipedia finding is pretty funny.  (Quote)

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