Throwing 200 innings is getting harder and harder

Right-hander Walker Buehler is proud to have thrown 200 innings this season for the Dodgers, especially considering he has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and an operation on Tommy John.

The achievement is even greater when you take into account the current state of affairs in the Major Leagues.

“I never did it before. And it’s weird, because it used to be the norm, ”Buehler said. “It is something that I looked for a long time. It’s hard to describe what it means, it’s something you do over 32 or 33 outings ”.

It looks like only four pitchers will reach 200 innings this season: Buehler, Zack Wheeler (Phillies), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals) and Sandy Alcantara (Marlins). It will be the lowest amount in the history of the majors.

Buehler’s durability was a big help to the Dodgers, who after 102 victories are still seeking the NL West title.

“It’s very good, especially considering what happened to our pitching,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Throwing six or more innings every time you go to the mound is a huge thing.”

Not long ago, pitching 200 innings was routine in the majors, hinting at a solid season with no injuries, but nothing to write home about. Two years ago, 15 pitchers threw 200 innings. In 2011, 39. Justin Verlander pitched 251 innings that year.

No one will even come close to 250 this year. Wheeler could top 220, depending on how many innings he threw in his last start.

There are a number of reasons why it is becoming increasingly rare to see 200 entries released:

– COVID-19: Pitchers had already been pitching fewer and fewer innings and that trend accelerated in the 2020 season, shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. Pitchers didn’t have as much time to prepare and were used very cautiously. The same trend prevailed in 2021.

– The pitch count: Managers allow their pitchers to make fewer pitches per game. In 2019, starters were allowed to make at least 100 pitches 1,167 times. Two years later, it may not even reach 700.

– Opening relievers: The idea of ​​having a reliever start a game, or having only relievers go to the mound in a game, is gaining popularity. The Tampa Bay Rays, who played the 2020 World Series and could reach 100 wins this season, are one of the most appealing to that option. His starters made fewer than 80 pitches 84 times this season.

– Rosters of 26 players: Historically, the major leagues allowed rosters of 25 active players. In 2020, 28 were allowed for the pandemic and in 2021, 26 were allowed. Many teams added a pitcher to the rosters.

Wheeler is one of the best pitchers in the majors today, but in just one of his last six starts he has pitched more than 100, despite his team fighting for a playoff spot.

“They take care of me,” Wheeler said. “That’s why we are doing as we are doing. I want to be able to pitch the rest of the season and hopefully in the playoffs. “

The 26-year-old Alcántara is the least known of those who will reach 200 innings. Manager Don Mattingly said his pitchers like to pitch every five days and go far.

“Every time he goes to the mound he thinks about pitching nine innings,” Mattingly said of Alcantara. “He doesn’t like me taking it out. That indicates a boy’s commitment to his team ”.