The Yankee Minor League Pitch Count Absurdity Reaches a New No-No Level

Joseph DelGrippoAnalyst IJuly 24, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 2: Alex Rodriguez #2 (L) of the New York Yankees sits on the bench, joined by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman (R) before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on July 2, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

One day before Mark Buehrle threw his perfect game, a Yankee minor league pitcher nearly had a no-hitter of his own.

After eight full innings on Wednesday night July 22, the New York Yankee Low-A Charleston RiverDogs affiliate was cruising along, winning 4-0. They would then tack on four more runs in the top of the 9th, pulling away for an 8-0 lead.

RiverDogs starting pitcher RH Cory Arbiso had a no-hitter going, allowing two walks while striking out four. At this point, the River Dog manager replaced Arbiso with a relief pitcher, thereby denying him a chance at the no-hitter.

That is absolutely ridiculous!  In the story linked above, the coaches had a pitch count of 80 for Arbiso, who was making a spot start. Arbiso allowed the two walks back-to-back in the second and a batter reached on an error leading off the 5th. Otherwise it was 3 up and 3 down.

Although his exact pitch count after 8 innings was not mentioned, Arbiso did face 26 hitters. Since the article mentioned a lot of ground ball outs and first-pitch strikes, etc., we can assume that Arbiso had at the most 80 pitches.

Since Arbiso was working quickly, throwing strikes and getting ahead of the hitter, would 10 more pitches hurt this guy? While primarily a reliever this season, Arbiso was a starter for Cal-State Fullerton in college and has started four games this season.

Why not have Arbiso go batter by batter in the 9th inning? If Arbiso gives up a hit to either of the first two guys, then pull him. With the big lead, the game was in hand, and combined with Arbiso’s excellent control (only four walks in 55 IP this year), it was unlikely he would issue another free pass, and the precious pitch count would remain low.

And Arbiso is not exactly a top prospect, either. As a 22nd round draft pick, Arbiso will have to earn his way up the hierarchy. Not just with this one start but over several years. The pecking order above him is vast, and down the road it is unlikely he will pitch in the major leagues for the Yankees.

Throwing another batter or two, or three would not have hurt Arbiso. The Yankees continually baby their pitchers and the injuries keep mounting in the minor league levels (George Kontos, Christian Garcia, Alan Horne, J Bent Cox, etc.).

Injuries are more the result of bad pitching mechanics rather than overuse. If Nardi Contreras would fix pitchers' mechanics rather than fix innings and pitch limits, the Yankees would be better off as an organization.

Buehrle is an example of a pitcher who has great mechanics and is very durable, with no injury history. Derek Lowe is another example of a pitcher with great mechanics, one who has never been on the disabled list.

Arbiso should have been left in to try and get the no-hitter. It could have been the highlight of his pro career.