Mel Antonen has a piece at SI.com on young pitchers. Within the piece, he spends a good deal of time writing about how the Rays will handle Jeremy Hellickson and the rest of their young starting pitchers. A few of the highlights…
- Andrew Friedman on limits for young pitchers: “There’s no hard and fast rule…There are a lot of things that factor into it. It depends on the progress of each pitcher. We just try to find the right work load.”
- David Price is one of the young arms in baseball that was in “uncharted waters” last season as far as innings pitched (we discussed this a few weeks ago).
- Friedman on Price: “Price’s innings were north of where we wanted to be, but he has a good work ethic and his innings were efficient.”
- Joe Maddon says a 20% increase over the previous season is “the ultimate monitoring device,” and that is the number he is looking for with Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and Price. But, Maddon said “All three have to be watched closely. Both Davis and Niemann missed time with injuries last season, so their situations warrant scrutiny. In David’s case, we extended him, so we will be watching all of them closely.”
- Maddon on Hellickson: “The backside of Jeremy’s schedule may be a little different. If it looks like we have a chance at the postseason, we may have to adjust his activity.”
- Maddon: “You don’t worry about guys that have pitched seven or eight years, but these guys aren’t there yet.”
So what does a 20% increase limit mean for the Rays rotation? Let’s take a look…
Obviously Price would have a hard time reaching 265.2 innings pitched in 2011 (Roy Halladay led all MLB with 250.2 in 2010). But considering his workload in 2010, Maddon will certainly look to go easy on Price’s arm at times this season.
Likewise, Shields’ numbers are fine. Niemann and Davis, with full seasons, will come close to their limits. This could be a factor if the Rays make the playoffs. But at that point, both will just have to suck it up.
Hellickson, like Price, could be in need of protection. With just 155.2 innings in 2010, his limit in 2011 will be 186.2 ip. That should be fine for the regular season. But if the Rays make the postseason, Hellboy may be the odd-man out based on his workload alone. Or as Maddon indicated above, Hellickson could be given extra time off down the stretch. A risky proposition if the team is fighting for a playoff spot.