Virginia High School League votes to restrict innings pitchers can throw

The Virginia High School League has voted to further restrict the number of innings that high school pitchers can throw within certain time frames, a measure that many area coaches consider an inaccurate way to measure the arm use of young hurlers.

For example, under the new rule, a pitcher may throw in a maximum of nine innings in one day but no more than 14 innings in a seven-day period. The previous rule allowed a pitcher to throw 10 innings in two consecutive calendar days. Throwing one pitch in an inning counts as an inning thrown.

The VHSL rule, which passed this month by a 19-6 vote after a similar measure was unanimously rejected in May, stipulates that if a pitcher throws in one inning for four straight days that pitcher must rest at least one day beginning with the day after the last inning thrown. A pitcher who throws in two or three innings in a day also has to rest a day beginning with the day after pitching. A four- to seven-inning stint is to be followed by two calendar days of rest beginning with the day after the outing.

The VHSL said that the medical community uses 10 to 15 pitches as an average that a pitcher throws per inning. If the innings rule is violated, it results in a forfeited game, and a possible $100 fine for the school. See further details at bottom.

John Thomas, McLean High baseball coach and president of the Northern Region Baseball Coaches Association, said in a letter to the VHSL Executive Committee prior to the vote that the baseball coaches in his area agreed unanimously after studying pitchers’ usage from last season that the new rule “would NOT be the best course of action for the VHSL to take.”

“After compiling and analyzing all of the available data for pitchers’ usage within the Northern Region during the 2012 season, we are now even more convinced that the current proposal does not represent the best or most efficient course of action,” the letter stated, adding that passing the proposed rule would be “unfortunate, and without true statistical basis.”

The coaches preferred a pitch count over an innings count, a method that the VHSL thought would be difficult at best to monitor given its more than 300 schools.

Related: VHSL proposes rule to further restrict innings for pitchers

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The new rule as it will appear in the VHSL Handbook

56-1-1 Pitching Regulations: For the purposes of this rule, delivery of one pitch constitutes having pitched in one inning. A pitcher may pitch in a maximum of nine innings in one day but not more than fourteen innings in any seven day consecutive period. If a pitcher pitches in one inning for four consecutive days that pitcher shall have one calendar day of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the fourth consecutive day a pitch is thrown. If a pitcher pitches in two or three innings in one day that pitcher shall have one calendar day of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown.

If a pitcher pitches four to seven innings in one day that pitcher shall have two calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown. Further restrictions regarding this section include:

●After two days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings.

●After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings.

●After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.

If a pitcher pitches in eight or nine innings in one day that pitcher shall have three calendar days of rest from competition pitching beginning with the day following the first day a pitch is thrown.

●After three days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of two innings.

●After four days of rest a pitcher may pitch a maximum of three innings.

●After five days of rest a pitcher may pitch to the limit of the rule.

This limitation applies to regular season as well as post season play.

56-1-2 Penalty: Violation of this rule constitutes use of an ineligible and forfeiture of any games in which such violation occurs. Additionally use of an ineligible carries a $100 fine for the offending school.

56-1-3 Educational Points: The medical community generally uses 10 to 15 as an average of pitches per inning. A pitcher’s pregame, post-game and between appearance programs are critical in development an appropriate pitching program. Preseason and early season programs should recognize acclimatization, progression of pitches and physical fitness development of the athlete. Physical development of the player, including age and fitness, should be considered in acclimatization and pitch progression. Fatigue (including arm, leg, general or a combination) should be strongly considered in the pitching regulation process.

 
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