Baseball coaches must be aware of new pitch count rules; In place to help prevent arm injuries

Sure to also alter game strategy

Dayton senior right hander Joe Kastner threw 81 pitches in five innings in hurling a no-hit, complete-game, shutout Monday vs. division rival Brearley.

According to the new pitch count rules, he now knows that he has to have at least three days rest before he can pitch again.

That means he will not be eligible to pitch in a game again until Friday.

That was the case in the past and would have still been the case under the guidance of head coach Mike Abbate.

The Dayton staff, like so many others, does not and cannot afford to burn out their pitchers and – more importantly – risk injury to the players they most need to be able to perform.

“Most high school coaches regulate pitch count already,” said Abbate, in his eighth season at the helm of the Bulldogs and who guided Dayton to its first two state sectional championships. “There are a lot of outside factors that go into this such as the weather, for example, that a pitcher throws in.

“We all want to keep our players and those who pitch healthy and ready to go for their next start.”

Most coaches I talked to about this issue agreed that in theory it is a good thing as far as an attempt to go a step further in preventing arm injuries. Most also felt that they were already doing what was right as far as not allowing a pitcher to throw too many pitches.

The most pitches allowed in a single game are 110. If that limit is reached, then the pitcher has to have at least four days rest before he can pitch in a game again.

“Any coach who allows a kid to throw 110 pitches in the first week should be arrested,” said Governor Livingston head coach Chris Roof, who is in his 14th season at the helm of the Highlanders and who has guided GL to two Group 2 state championships and one Union County Tournament title.

“This is really no different from what we do,” Roof continued. “I understand that they feel like they have to do something. I do get it because some coaches abuse arms. I think the majority of injuries stem from summer time showcases.”

 

NEW PITCH COUNT RULES FOR 2017 SEASON:

 

National Federation Baseball Rules has mandatory provision to have each state adopt a pitching limitation-pitch count rule.

The Head Coach must remove the pitcher when said pitcher reaches the pitching limit below.

Pitcher may remain or re-enter the game at another position per substitution rule.

 

Maximum of 110 pitches per game-day; NJSIAA Baseball.

 

Varsity Pitch Limit:                    Sub-Varsity Pitch Limit:

 

1-30 pitches: 0 day rest.               1-20 pitches: 0 day rest.

 

31-50: 1 day rest.                           21-40: 1 day rest.

 

51-70: 2 days rest.                         41-60: 2 days rest.

 

71-90: 3 days rest.                       61-80: 3 days rest.

 

91-110: 4 days rest.                         81-100: 4 days rest.

 

* 110 pitches are the maximum number of pitches for varsity and 100 for sub-varsity.

 

* If a pitcher reaches a pitch limit while facing a batter, the pitcher may continue to pitch until one of the following occurs: *the batter reaches base, *that batter is retired, or * the third out is recorded to complete that half-inning or game.

 

* A pitcher cannot throw 3 calendar days in a row.

 

* For state tournament games that rule may be suspended and resumed at the point of interruption, if a pitcher has thrown 1-50 pitches before the game was-is suspended. That pitcher’s count shall carry over to the next day and that pitcher may pitch up to the 110 maximum.

 

* A sub-varsity pitcher’s pitch count will “follow” the pitcher up to the varsity level, but that pitcher will be held to the sub-varsity limits.

 

“Say you have your ace pitching on Tuesday, but it’s Monday and you want to get one or two outs to win the game,” Roof said. “If he throws 10 pitches to get those two outs, then the next day he can only throw 40.”

The maximum number of innings a pitcher can throw in a week is still 10.

“These are the kinds of situations we will have to get used to,” Roof said.

Smaller schools are at a disadvantage because they just don’t have as many arms.

“Group 1 schools will be hurt the most by this,” Roof said. “They will now have to find other kids that can pitch, which will be very tough for them.”

“I told my AD that should it happen we can’t play four games in one week,” said Brearley head coach Joe Capizzano, who is in his 20th season at the helm of the Bears and who led Brearley to its first state sectional championship and first appearance in a state championship game in Toms River. “For a small school like us we just don’t have as many pitchers.’

One exercise Brearley players use to strengthen their arms from a velocity standpoint – according to Capizzano – is reaching back, winding up and pretending to throw – holding on to the ball.

“Enforcing it (the new pitch count rules) will be shaky the first time doing it, but I’m absolutely in favor,” said Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy, now in his 10th season at the helm of the Crusaders. “There are those that abuse arms.”

One example of enforcing it comes in the form of a relative helping out. At Dayton, Abbate’s father, Bob, is keeping the pitch count for the Bulldog pitchers this season.

“This has to be done across the board by every coach,” Kennedy continued. “I’ve had three shoulder surgeries, so I can identify with this big time.”

Kennedy, as a junior at Glen Ridge in 1987 blanked Irvington 3-0 in the Greater Newark Tournament final that year and then as a senior in 1988 helped lead the Ridgers to the Group 1 state championship. He went on to play collegiately and professionally.

“You can’t just let a kid throw so many pitches,” Kennedy said. “You have to think of his health and his future.”

Also of the belief that his program always did and continues to do what is correct concerning the health of his players, Cranford head coach Dennis McCaffery, in his 19th season at the helm of the Cougars, said this: “for kids’ safety, it’s a good move to prevent injuries. It’s being done for the right reasons, for arm safety.”

Angel Navarette, who played for and coached under McCaffery and is now in his fourth season as the head coach at Union had this to say on the topic,” I see both sides. I don’t think there really is a remedy for arm issues, but I see the reason for precaution.

“I think a kid throwing 110 is fine, but the new rule will prevent a kid from throwing 110 and then coming back three days later and throwing 110 again (now you need 4 days rest).

“It’s a good thing. You will need a deeper rotation now to win.”

Each coach now has to provide the umpires – during the discussion of grounds rules before each game – with a chartered record of each of his pitchers pitch counts.

“It will be weird having to report it back and forth,” Navarette said. “Everyone will have to adjust and go with the flow.”

That includes Roselle Catholic first-year head coach Dan Olear, who starred for the Lions in the early 1980s before graduating from the Roselle school in 1985.

“I don’t think it will help,” said Olear, who was also an assistant coach at Marist and a head coach at Hudson Catholic in addition to coaching on the collegiate level at Union County College, St. Peter’s and New Jersey City University.

Roselle Catholic had still yet to play it first game as of Thursday, April 6.

If you have a plan to prevent in the first place then you don’t have to worry about someone throwing too many pitches,” Olear said.

“Our philosophy at Roselle Catholic will be – on or out in three pitches.”

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