Jerry Crasnick has a good story upon ESPN.com about the workload of young pitchers currently throwing for contenders.
He identifies two rules of thumb teams use when monitoring the season-over-season increase in a young hurler’s workload:
- Limit the increase in innings to 20%; or
- Limit the increase to 25-30 innings.
David Price is one of the 7 pitchers Crasnick evaluates in his story because Price is a legitimate Cy Young contender who has already thrown 157.2 innings this year, just five shy of his total for all of 2009.
If the Rays stay in rotation, Price lines up for 7 more regular-season starts:
Aug. 27 vs. Boston
Sep. 1 vs. Toronto
Sep. 6 at Boston
Sep. 11 at Toronto
Sep. 17 vs. Anaheim (his 5th day falls on an off-day, Sep. 16)
Sep. 22 at New York
Sep. 27 vs. Baltimore
If the Rays continue on their current pace, six of those starts are going to be non-negotiable for Price because the AL East pennant may not be decided until the Rays visit New York on September 22.
As of now, Price is averaging 6.2 innings per start. That means, he is likely to throw between 37.2 and 44.1 more innings this season for a season total of 195.1-202 innings.
That makes the 7th start crucial. If Price skips one of his remaining starts (I am looking at you 9/17 vs. LAA — because you follow an off day that would normally be Price’s turn– and you 9/27 vs. Baltimore — because you are Baltimore) he would see an innings increase of 19.7% over last season. If he makes the 7th start, however, he skips out of the 20% range with a 23.6%.
Of course, none of this factors in October innings which can expand or contract a pitcher’s role. In the interest of superstition, lets leave talk of October for later in the summer.