Stephen Strasburg and 4 Other Young Starters with Innings Limits in 2012
Innings limits may not always be the most popular thing for managers and owners to impose, but they are definitely important in keeping young arms fresh and healthy.
Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post that Stephen Strasburg will be on an innings limit this season. Strasburg will pitch every fifth day from the start of the regular season until he hits the 160-innings mark.
The Nationals will not tamper with his outings, allowing him to pitch as deep into games as he is able to. After 160 innings, though, the team will shut him down for the remainder of the season.
Strasburg is already one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, striking out 116 batters in just 17 starts. He's walked just 19 batters and pitched to a 2.54 ERA.
His growth is nowhere near complete, however. Many feel he has even more room to grow. That's why it's a smart decision to keep him on regular rest while he works towards 160 innings.
Allowing him to pitch on a consistent basis will help him to learn how to adjust between starts and develop a routine on how to prepare on a day-to-day basis.
Nationals fans may not be in love with the decision, as they were hoping that this would finally be the season that the team makes a playoff push.
Strasburg will be essential in getting the team to that point, but he will almost certainly not be a part of the playoff roster if the Nationals can earn a spot.
Strasburg is not alone this season, as there are several other young hurlers who could be put on innings limits in 2012.
Aaron Crow, Kansas City Royals
Aaron Crow had a great first season in 2011, going 4-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 62 innings out of the bullpen. He struck out 65 batters and had a WHIP of 1.387.
Despite his bullpen success, Crow is a starting pitcher.
Assuming he makes the starting staff out of spring training, he will be on an innings limit.
Crow has been stretched out in recent memory, throwing 163.1 innings in his first season in the Kansas City Royals' organization in 2010.
It's likely that Crow will find himself in both roles at some point during the season, as the Royals do not want to just shut him down once he reaches a certain number of innings.
It'll most likely be a season of jumping back and forth from the starting rotation to the bullpen for Crow, but he has the potential to find success in both roles.
If he succeeds in limited innings in 2012, expect him to be limit-free in the rotation in 2013.
Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers
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Neftali Feliz has appeared in 154 games in his three-year major league career, all of which coming out of the bullpen.
He is a starter, and the Texas Rangers are going to give him a shot in 2012.
Seeing as he hasn't pitched in 70 innings once in his career as a closer, the Rangers would be wise to ease him in.
The team is most likely going to limit him to between 140 and 160 innings, but that number will most likely be closer to 140.
There's no telling how well he'll even fare in the rotation, so he could even find his way back into the bullpen come midseason.
Either way, he's got one of the most explosive young arms in the league, and the Rangers are wise to be putting a cap on his innings in his first season as a starting pitcher.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
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The left-hander has a very bright future, and there's no reason to jeopardize his career during a season that the White Sox probably aren't going to compete.
He tossed just 71 innings last season out of the bullpen, striking out 79 and recording a 2.79 ERA.
Sale should be placed into the same cap as Feliz (140-160 innings), but don't be surprised if Chicago stretches him out to around 175 innings.
Either way, it's better than him tossing 200 innings at this point in his career.
The White Sox would be making a huge mistake if they allow the soon to be 23-year-old lefty to appear in that many innings.
Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox
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Having been a reliever for the past three seasons, the main concern with Daniel Bard is his stamina.
Bard has been training to be a starting pitcher all offseason, but there's no training that can match actually pitch in live-game situations.
In his three-year career, Bard has tossed 197 innings. That's a number that established starters are pretty much expected to toss each season.
Bard tired out down the stretch last season, recording a 5.28 second-half ERA. Keeping his stamina up will be a big concern for the Boston Red Sox this spring.
No official cap has been announced, so we could see a cap ranging from 100 to 175 innings.
If I had to guess, I would say that Bard will throw around 140 innings in 2012 before being shelved until 2013.
He clearly has tons of potential, and there's no reason to risk losing it in his first full season as a starter.