For the first time since Japanese high school baseball is played, pitchers will be limited to 500 pitches per week. The Japanese National High School Baseball Federation has decided to go with this rule to protect young pitchers from abuse.
In the (recent) past it was pretty common that pitchers threw over 200 pitches per game during the Koshien championship and then a couple of hundred in the next game and the next. With this abuse, high school coaches are tempting fate.
The new rule will start from next spring’s national invitational tournament at Koshien Stadium.
“There is no scientific basis (for this number),” said national federation president Eiji Hatta. “We’ll start off with 500 pitches and collect medical data during the trial period. If that number is too lax, we will review it.”
Letting young pitchers throw 200 per game, three days in a row is considered harmful to youngsters arms by many coaches outside Japan. Take Daisuke Matsuzaka for example. The former Red Sox ace threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over PL Gakuen during the quarterfinal of the 1998 Summer Koshien. The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete-game shutout. This kind of abuse may have led to the injuries he suffered from during his MLB career.
The new rule would allow pitchers to throw 170 pitches in games that are played in a short span.
The pressure to reform started since last December when Niigata Prefecture’s federation acted on its own to introduce pitch limits for its spring tournament on a trial basis. The Niigata body had planned to prevent pitchers from starting a new inning after throwing 100 pitches in a game.