Pitch counts make it difficult to pitch a lot of innings at one time or even during a week. Is there anything I can do to cut down on my pitch count allowing me the opportunity to pitch more innings?
Yes, there are several different strategies to limiting pitches per inning to allow a pitcher to go deep into a game. Most of the strategies are focused on staying aggressive and throwing strikes. The more strikes a pitcher throws, the less pitches are needed to get hitters out. Throwing first pitch strikes and setting a goal of throwing two of the first three pitches for strikes to every hitter are two ways to help cut down on the amount of pitches needed to get outs. Strikeouts are fun and look good in the stats, but are outs just like a ground out on the first pitch in an at-bat. The difference is the amount of pitches needed to get the out. First or second pitch outs will dramatically cut down on pitch count. Remember, a pitcher can only strike a hitter out when he has two strikes on him. It is impossible to strike a hitter out on the first pitch.
Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are two current MLB pitchers that seem to always have the most complete games each year. The reason is both are aggressive pitchers who throw strikes and rarely walk hitters. They are not trying to strike everybody out. Instead, they are trying to get hitters out any way they can.
I always tried to establish throwing strikes right from the start of every game. I wanted the other team to know that they better be ready to swing the bat. This always put the hitters on the aggressive side, and I would use that to my advantage. An aggressive hitter is more likely to swing at a pitch that is just off the plate or a pitcher’s pitch than a hitter who is patient.
Pitch counts have become common at all levels, and are in place to protect pitchers. Throwing baseballs as hard as you can over and over puts tremendous stress on an arm, and limiting pitch count helps prevent injury.