The Washington Nationals are making news by shutting down their young stud pitcher, Steven Strasburg in the middle of their first playoff run in, well, forever. That's right, they are in line to go the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history and they are shutting down maybe their best pitcher? Yes, they want to limit his innings coming back from Tommy John surgery.
So why am I telling you this?
The Indians have just lost Josh Tomlin. In 2010 Tomlin pitched 180 innings. The most he had pitched before that in a season is 145 innings. Flash forward to 2012 and Tomlin, pitching badly, goes down with Tommy John surgery.
Carlos Carrasco pitched 181 innings in 2009, the year the Indians got him in the Cliff Lee trade. The most he had ever pitched before that was 159 innings when the Phillies probably overused him two years before that in low A ball in as a 19 year old who had never pitched more than 83 innings!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Flash forward to 2011 and Carrasco had TJ surgery.
You could make the same case for Hector Rondon when he transitioned from rookie ball to Lake County in 2006. Ditto for Alexander Perez in 2009.
The Indians and other teams have had a philosophy where they don't want a starting pitcher's innings to increase by over a certain amount each year. They feel that puts extra stress on the pitcher's arm that, while it may not show up the next year, will show up in a few years in either worsening performance or in shoulder or elbow surgery.
So, here we are in the lost season of 2012. We need to speak about Zach McAllister.
The most innings McAllister has pitched previously in a season was in 2011 when he pitched 173 innings which was up from the 150 innings he pitched in 2010. At this point McAllister has pitched in 172 innings. He is likely to get 4 more starts in the 18 remaining games. That could push his numbers over 200 innings.
The question is, do we risk it? The answer is no. I think we shut him down after his next start, which is Wednesday, September 19th. That will give him a career high in innings but no an excessive increase over 2011 like the increase he had in 2011 compared to 2010. I think increasing his innings significantly for the second straight year could easily lead to a problem. Maybe not in 2013 but the risk would go up in 2014. If we are going to compete next year we need guys like McAllister to be injury-free and productive.
No sense burning out his arm this year. We have Gomez to backfill McAllister's spot in the rotation now that Huff is starting again. Time to shut McAllister down. I hope the Indians are listening!.