With the Minnesota high school baseball season beginning for most teams this week, I thought it would be a service for fans to know the new pitch count rule that is being implemented this spring.

One thing is certain during the 2017 Minnesota high school baseball season - there will be more players pitching than ever before. Whether that will be good for the game or not remains to be seen.

Why will there be more kids pitching you ask - the new baseball pitch count policy.

Most of the coaches I've visited with understand the need for the new pitch count rule, but most don't agree with the number and the other requirements added to the rule.

I will talk about the high school varsity numbers here because there are different numbers for the middle school and junior varsity.

The daily maximum number is 105 pitches. That's 15 pitches per inning in the seven-inning high school game.

We can probably ask 10 people to tell us what the ideal number should be and get about seven different answers.

I would like to think the coaches know their pitchers' abilities. Some guys I played with could throw every day and not be bothered, others would need more rest between starts. The bottom line here is protecting a young person's arm, which I think we can agree is a proper goal. But wait until you see the rest of the policy.

If a player throws 30 or fewer pitches in a game, he is not required to have any rest before he can go to to the mound again.

  • 31-50 pitches: one day rest
  • 51-75 pitches: two days rest
  • 76-105 pitches: three days rest
  • Once the limit is reached, a pitcher may finish to that batter (so if he fouls off a number of pitches, well, you get the idea)
  • One day of rest is also required if a pitcher pitches two straight days (regardless of number of pitches I assume, the policy does not say that)
  • Days of rest are measured in calendar days, not 24-hour periods. If a player throws 55 pitches on Monday they are not able to pitch on either Tuesday or Wednesday, but could pitch again any time on Thursday
  • Only pitches thrown to a batter count toward a pitch count
  • When pitching below varsity level, those pitch counts apply. The pitcher must meet the rest requirements for that level before pitching at the varsity level. When pitching at the varsity level, those pitch count rules apply. The player must then meet those rest requirements before pitching at the lower level.

The daily maximum pitch limit is extended to 115 once section playoffs begin.

How are they going to keep track of this? That is what I asked and here is the requirement for tracking pitches:

  • During the regular season, each team must designate a student or adult who is responsible to track the pitches for the team. In the post-season this must be an adult. This can be done on a form that will be available from the MSHSL website or may be done digitally. Each team should track the pitches for both teams.
  • After each half-inning, those responsible for tracking pitches will confirm the number of pitches for that half-inning. Any discrepancies need to be worked out at that time. If a dispute cannot be resolved, the number calculated by the home team will stand as the official number. Once the next half-inning has begun, the numbers from the previous half-inning are final. Umpires will not be involved in tracking or confirming the number of pitches.
  • Within 24 hours of conclusion of a game, each team is responsible to record the pitch counts for each participating pitcher on the MSHSL website. If the next game is played within 24 hours, the pitch count paper form from the previous game must be shared with the opponent.

Now we get to the penalties section, and the trackers don't suffer any penalties from what I can see. The pitchers and head coaches do.

Violation of the pitch count rule:

When a pitcher pitches more than the allotted number of pitches or does not meet the rest requirement they become an ineligible athlete.

  • 1st offense: Game is forfeited and the head coach is censured.
  • 2nd offense in the same season: Game is forfeited and the head coach is suspended for one game
  • 3rd offense in the same season: Game is forfeited and the head coach is suspended for four games.

Violation of tracking pitches policy:

Failure to record and track pitches as per the following stipulations will result in the following penalties (the verbiage is right out of the policy):

  • 1st offense: head coach is reminded
  • 2nd offense: head coach is censured
  • 3rd offense: head coach is suspended for one game
  • 4th offense: head coach is suspended for four games

The MSHSL is also recommending, but not making it a rule, that a player not pitch and catch in the same game - that after a pitcher leaves the game they not return as a pitcher.

During our debut area coaches shows Saturday, Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said he and his assistants are talking about possibly using a player in a closer type role to take up some of the pitches.

Cannon Falls head coach Bucky Lindow told us the Bombers are planning on having 10 guys available to pitch.

Kenyon-Wanamingo head coach Randy Hockinson told me last year his team played six games in five days due to weather outs. He also pointed out strike-out pitchers tend to throw more pitches.

A couple of coaches posed the question about whether they should instruct their players to take more pitches at the plate so the pitch count is elevated for the pitcher they are facing.

Teams are probably not going to want to schedule very many doubleheaders with this policy in place, but with weather postponements that is not always controllable.

The coach better trust the pitch count tracker.

Do you like the new rule?

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