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Friday, October 23, 2020

A Conversation With Tom House, the “Father of Modern Pitching Mechanics”

David Laurila: Let’s start with pitch counts. Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said during an NLCS media session that he was “blown away” to learn that Max Fried had never thrown more than 109 pitches in a game, adding that a career-high should be closer to 140. He also suggested that once Fried got into his rhythm he might have been able to throw 200 pitches. What are your thoughts on that?

Tom House: “From research, there are three things that keep a pitcher’s arm healthy: workloads, number of pitches, [and] his functional strength and mechanical efficiency. The research goes all the way back to Paul Richards, who was the general manager of the Orioles. Richards was the first guy, when he had ‘the baby birds,’ the four 20-game winners. He intuited that 100 pitches was about when most pitchers start getting into muscle failure — this assuming they have pretty solid mechanics and some functional strength. The 100-pitch idea grew from there, and has kind of become the standard.

“What it boils down to is, if you can pitch… I’m going to give you a resource. If you go to ASMI.org and look for age-specific pitch totals, Glenn Fleisig and a bunch of us did the research. I know for a fact that Nolan Ryan had a 260-pitch outing one time, and came back four days later and threw a two-hitter. He was with the Angels, and I think threw 14 or 15 innings. But with pitch totals, a blanket 100-pitch per game is kind of the standard right now. Everybody works forward and backwards from there.

“Greg Maddux would be a perfect example of someone that had a whole bunch of complete games and never really got into muscle failure. He also averaged just 11.2 pitches per inning. The pitch totals that are out there right now… when they’re not quite sure about mechanics, and they’re not quite sure about functional strength, pitch totals is something that the analytics people can hang their hat on. But Snitker was probably right. When you’re throwing like the kid did, 140 pitches would be a walk in the park. That said, not everybody understands mechanics and functional strength, and that’s why the pitch-total limits are what they are.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 23, 2020 at 01:09 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tom house

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: October 24, 2020 at 09:12 AM (#5984873)
it's a interesting article but he does a very bad job explaining what he means by "functional strength"
   2. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 24, 2020 at 06:25 PM (#5984917)
Maddux averaged 11.2 pitches per inning? That doesn't seem right. He would have had 20 CGs every year.
   3. AndrewJ Posted: October 24, 2020 at 07:09 PM (#5984927)
I liked THE DIAMOND APPRAISED, Tom's 1980s book with Craig Wright. It's overdue for an updated edition.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: October 24, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5984929)
#2 ... I agree it sounds low but Maddux rarely built up high pitch counts. (Possibly House was referring to Maddux's peak or his CGs or ...)

Whaddya know? b-r has pitch count data for most of Maddux's career. He averaged 6.8 IP/start and just 92 pitches. Now that's obviously well above 11.2 but it's pretty low. Looks like the closest he ever came was 1997 with 7.1 IP on just 85 pitchers. By that table, 1994 was the last season he averaged over 100, only once over 95 after that and under 90 for his last 8 seasons.

That table also reports that over Maddux's career, league average was 6 IP/start on 95 pitches so nearly 16. Maddux was rarely much over 13. He apparently had a 167 pitch start back in 1988. He didn't top 115 in the last 8 seasons and only rarely made it to 120 after 1993. We have pitch counts for 693 of his 740 career starts and he was under 100 pitches in 475 of them. In 2007 (age 41), he was under 100 in 34 of 34 while still averaging 5.8 IP. Even as early as 96 (season after his last CYA), he stayed under 100 in about 2/3 of his starts every year.

Looks like we have it for every season of the Unit -- 6.8 IP, 111 pitches, so >16. He got it down around 15 in his peak. Glavine 6.5/101/16; Clemens 7/112/16; Pedro 6.7/103/<16.

So 11.2 is wrong (or conditional on something) but Maddux certainly stood out from the crowd.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: October 24, 2020 at 07:18 PM (#5984930)
One shouldn't expect accuracy from House. He's like Mike Marshall, only instead of his major 1974 accomplishment being winning the Cy Young, it was catching Hank's 715th.
   6. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 24, 2020 at 08:45 PM (#5984944)
One shouldn't expect accuracy from House. He's like Mike Marshall, only instead of his major 1974 accomplishment being winning the Cy Young, it was catching Hank's 715th.

House would have a lot more credibility as the Father of Modern Pitching Mechanics if his star pupils weren't Bobby Witt, Mitch Williams, and Ed Correa.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: October 25, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5985274)

House would have a lot more credibility as the Father of Modern Pitching Mechanics if his star pupils weren't Bobby Witt, Mitch Williams, and Ed Correa.


I was under the impression that Nolan Ryan gave House some credit for his success. Which is why many people assume Ryan used steroids, as House is a self admitted roid user.
   8. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 25, 2020 at 09:03 PM (#5985309)
I was under the impression that Nolan Ryan gave House some credit for his success. Which is why many people assume Ryan used steroids, as House is a self admitted roid user.

Per Wiki, House claims several pitchers on each team in the 70's were experimenting with steroids and HGH which coincides nicely with Ryan's 300-inning 200+-pitch game seasons in Anaheim.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: October 25, 2020 at 09:15 PM (#5985315)
He's previously said usage was widespread among MLB pitchers in the 1960s, which ended two years before he joined a major league roster and whose usage seemed to escape the pitcher who was spilling the beans about everything going on in major league clubhouses.

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