Just as important was the need to limit the number of pitches Price throws this season.
Some call it “The Verducci Effect” after Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, who first wrote about the risk of young pitchers (under 25) throwing more than 30 innings over their previous career-high.
The Rays use a slight variation, in that they try to limit their pitchers to a 20% increase over the previous season. Last season, Price logged 129.1 innings between the minors and the Rays (including the postseason). A 20% increase would allow Price to throw 155-160 innings in 2009.
After last night’s season debut, Price has now thrown 37.2 innings. If Price remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, he will make 22-23 additional starts for which he will be limited to about 120 innings or about 5.5 innings per start.
In other words, expect Price to be limited to 90-100 pitches per start and on most nights he will be out of the game after 5 or 6 innings.
Of course, none of this considers any postseason play. If the Rays are true to their word…and this is an organization that rarely deviates from the script…Price may not be part of the rotation for any potential postseason action.
If Price has already thrown 155-160 innings by the end of the regular season, expect him to be moved to the bullpen should the Rays make the postseason. The Rays just aren’t an organization that is willing to risk too much of the future for the chance to win in the present.