Pitch Counts

PITCH COUNTS: Are They Really Working…or Resulting in Too Many HS Forfeits?

Now that we’re most than halfway through the HS baseball season, I thought it would be smart to review whether the state-by-state rules regarding pitch counts and limits are actually having a positive impact.

And overall, I do think it’s very fair to say that the pitch count rules have – if nothing else – have finally made baseball coaches — and hopefully parents — aware of the dangers of having young arms be overly taxed during their teenage years.

And that’s all to the good.

But in order to achieve this goal, there have been a lot of extra rules and regulations put into place, and seemingly done so in a rushed fashion. The end result has been a startling number of HS games forfeit due to pitch count violations, as well as more and more coaches trying to work a sense of gamemanship into their strategy. As a result, the bottom line is that the pitch count rules have to be viewed as very much a work still in progress.

As my guest Steve Kallas pointed out, there have games forfeit all over the country, including New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina, Idaho – pretty much everywhere. For example, in Illinois, in one game, one team was up 13-3 and there was really no need for the starting pitcher who had the lead to go out and pitch another  inning. But his coach apparently lost track of how many days of rest the kid had, and the game ended up as a forfeit.

In fact, there have been at least 11 forfeits in Illinois this year alone. 

In Colorado, a HS which won a game 8-4 saw that win turn into a loss when they had to forfeit the game.

In North Carolina, the AD of the winning HS team reported his baseball coach’s mistake regarding a pitch count to the league board and that ended in a forfeit

Closer to home, in NJ, the Carteret  v. Perth Amboy game a couple of weeks ago ended with a pitch count dispute. The outcome of that game is still in dispute.

As the calls poured in, it was clear that HS coaches were now finding ways to use the pitch count as a weapon against the opposing team. For example, instructing one’s batters to take as many pitches as possible in order to push the pitcher’s count higher late in the game. Other coaches were throwing their ace only 30 pitches on one day, then allowing him to come back the very next day for another 30. Then, having him rest a day, and coming back to throw 50-60 pitches the next day. In many states, that’s very legal, even though it’s probably not very healthy for the kid’s arm.

Others complained about why it’s the home team that has the ultimate verdict on pitch counts. That is, if there’s a discrepancy between the home and visiting team, it’s the home team whose count wins. Umpires clearly do not want to get in the middle of these disputes.

And on and on the conversation went. It was clear to Steve and myself that this is an issue that needs to addressed and modified and reworked in the off-season. And the first issue to start with is – -why is the game totally forfeit? That seems like a draconian punishment for all concerned. There has to be a better – and fairer – way to protect kids’ arms via the new pitch count limits.



  • Charles Smith

    In New Jersey, violation of the old pitching limitation rule, resulted in a forfeit for over 20 years. Forfeiture is nothing new.

    A big issue is the Athletic Directors failing to embrace an independent pitch counter. If you leave it to the coaches, there will always be problems.

    • Rick Wolff

      Interesting – and I’m not surprised to hear that about the old rules regarding violations. But I wonder how many times those rules were enforced.