Northern Michigan Teams Discuss New Pitch Count Rule
As high school baseball teams throughout the state are getting on the field for the first time this spring, they are faced with a new rule instituted this year by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
The MHSAA is now capping the number of pitches a pitcher can throw in a game at 105. Previously, pitchers were held to a weekly innings limit. Pitchers who throw more than 75 pitches in a game also must rest three days before returning to the mound.
In northern Michigan, the new rule could cause an issue for some programs.
"Our schedule is pretty tight,” Beal City coach Steve Pickens said. “Playing baseball in Michigan you’ve got to play every other day, or every third day, and you know, if pitchers throw too much and then you have to rest them for that period of time."
The rule is aimed at protecting young arms, but it is causing some programs to search high and low for extra pitchers to fill out their bullpen.
"We’ve just gone to work all offseason developing as much pitching as we can,” Glen Lake coach Kris Herman said. “We’re taking just about every kid that we have that can throw and teaching him mechanics and strategy and how to be on a mound, and I’ve been really pleased with it so far.
"I think what the pitching changes do, it forces you to learn more about pitching and develop more pitching, and I think that’s good for the game. It’s good for the kids, because you can get more pitchers out there."
Players and coaches say that teams with pitching depth will have a significant advantage with this new rule.
"We’re focusing on throwing more strikes,” Gaylord St. Mary junior Drew Long said. “Getting guys out in three pitches is our key. Because of pitch counts… It’s going to be tough to keep our starters in the game longer with the new rules.”
"With the pitch count this year, you’re going to have to have a deeper pitching staff, and more guys that can throw… and not just rely on 1 or 2 arms to get yourself through a game or a tournament,” added Beal City senior Thomas McCann.