Rochester High School senior Dylan Fosnacht threw 194 pitches over the course of 14 innings in a baseball game on Tuesday. Now his coach has come under fire for not pulling the young player earlier. The incident comes in the wake of a recent uptick in major league pitchers undergoing elbow surgery, raising awareness of the risk of pitching for extended periods. To put Fosnacht’s pitch count in perspective, since 1914, only six major league pitchers have thrown 190 or more pitches in a game.
Young pitchers are also at risk of injury. Little League Baseball imposes a limit of 105 pitches a day for 17-18 year old pitchers. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association only stipulates (pdf) that if a pitcher is in for at least four innings, he cannot pitch again for two days. (Oregon mandates that pitchers can’t pitch more than 12 innings on three consecutive days.)
Glenn Fleisig, Research Director at the American Sports Medicine Institute, explains that tendons in our arms contain many strands of tissue. When surgeons operate on pitchers, young or old, who have thrown too many pitches, he says, those tendons “look like a frayed rope.”
We’ll hear more from Fleisig on the risks of pitching too much, and what schools and states can do to prevent injuries.