It doesn’t take much for the baseball cognoscenti to get up into a lather when it comes to pitch counts, but a recent Dallas Morning News story will certainly do the trick.
In early April, Creekview pitcher Brandon White, a junior college commit, pulled off one of the most dominant and ‘heroic’ performances imaginable. He pitched all 12 innings of his team’s 4-3 victory against district rival Newman Smith, and he also belted the game-winning home run in the top of the 12th. He was superman without a cape and with very good pitch location.
He was also Superman simply by ensuring that his arm stayed attached at the hinge. By game’s end, White had thrown a career-high 145 pitches, 103 of which were strikes (the aforementioned pitch accuracy). And while plenty are sure to blame White’s coach for the teen’s overuse, it was actually the pitcher himself who begged for the opportunity to close the game out in the 12th, and his father had no problem with the decision.
“[Creekview coach Leroy Mansanales] watches the kids and doesn’t overthrow them,” Michael White, Brandon White’s father, told the Morning News. “If the Newman Smith game ended in the seventh, [Brandon] would have been at about 92 pitches, which is about right. We don’t expect him to go 12 innings again. Newman Smith is different because of the talent they have.”
That’s all well and good, but it’s still no assurance that Creekview might not be drawn into another extra inning game in a pressure situation later in the season. What happens then?
Will he even have any innings in his allotment left to pitch at that point? According to the Pitch Smart collaboration between MLB and the American Sports Medical Institute, no 17 or 18-year-old pitcher should be allowed to exceed 100 total innings in all competition over a 12 month period; White ate up more than 1/10 of that in a single outing. He also far surpassed the 105 pitch total recommended for any single game by Pitch Smart.
Those concerns would certainly have been reinforced by White’s self-assessment after his 12-inning marathon: He told the Morning News that his arm felt like a ‘limp noodle’ the next morning. To Mansales’ credit, White was kept from practice for the remainder of the week, but it didn’t necessarily seem like he viewed the lengthy outing as purely a one-off.
“Drastic activity requires drastic recovery,” Brandon said. “I’m fortunate to have a body that can handle the work I put it through.”
How long he has the body will be the larger point many focus on, we are sure.