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Baseball Pitching Counts

In the past, Little League used innings pitched as a standard for how long a player should be allowed to pitch. However, this is much more inaccurate than following pitching counts, as innings can vary greatly. An inning can last 3 pitches or 30, so the actual pitching count is what should be followed. Even in Major League Baseball, starting pitchers are often limited to not much more than 100 pitches and relief pitchers to several short innings of work. Considering that, why shouldn’t there be pitching counts for the young athletes playing the same sport?

The current Little League rules vary by age group and are as follows:

o 10 and under: 75 pitches/day
o 11-12: 85 pitches/day
o 13-16: 95 pitches/day
o 17-18: 105 pitches day

There are also minimum rest requirements to provide adequate time to recuperate between outings. Under 16 years of age, a pitcher must rest for 3 days after throwing more than 60 pitches, 2 days for between 40 and 60 pitches and 1 day for between 20 and 40 pitches. Between 17 and 18 years the same recommendations are made for pitch counts totaling over 75, in between 50 and 75 and in between 25 to 50.

Besides keeping young arms healthy, there are many other benefits to instituting and adhering to pitch counts. Some of these include:

o Providing a chance for pitchers to play and enjoy other positions.
o Giving other players a chance to pitch and see if they enjoy it or are good at it.
o In youth leagues, it can even the playing field and make things more competitive when there are just a few standout athletes that always dominate their outings.

Controversy Surrounding Pitching Counts

While Little League has official pitch counts in place now, there is still controversy surrounding the issue today. Many argue that if their player is healthy and capable, they should be able to play. Others argue that is unfair to take out a highly performing pitcher in the middle of an outing, or be able to use them in a future important game, just because of a somewhat arbitrary number.