Call Me Crazy, But 169 Pitches Seems A Bit Excessive

After Stephen Strasburg lost San Diego State’s postseason opener on Friday night, Tony Gwynn was asked if he would be available to pitch Monday on two days rest if the Aztecs won on Saturday.  His response?

“Rather than look ahead until Monday, let’s look ahead to [Saturday].”

I take that to mean that Gwynn will be careful with his stud righthander.  If only such restraint were in the DNA of University of Texas coach Augie Garrido.  Garrido is successful, with eleven straight NCAA tournament appearances, five College World Series appearances, and two national titles in his thirteen seasons at the school, but the way he handled one of his pitchers on Saturday evening against Boston College is insane.

Austin Wood, a senior who Baseball Prospectus has called the Longhorns best draft prospect, came on in relief in the seventh inning of a 2-2 game.  He pitched 13 innings (12.1 without allowing a hit), walking four and striking out fourteen.  He threw 169 pitches.  That’s one hundred and sixty-nine pitches.

You know how they often send important game-related artifacts to the Hall of Fame for display?  I’m pretty sure Wood’s actual arm is on it’s way to Cooperstown as we speak.

It’s been almost twelve years to the day since a major leaguer has reached that number, and then it was a knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, who threw 169 pitches in a 2-1 win over Milwaukee on June 5, 1997.  If a manager allows a pitcher to go even as deep as 150 pitches in this day and age, he finds himself the subject of widespread ridicule and scorn.  It happens in college, however, and the big story is that he struck out a bunch of guys and didn’t allow a hit for a long time.  There’s something confusing about that.

If nothing else, perhaps it explains why Huston Street is the only Texas pitcher to achieve reasonable major league success during Garrido’s tenure.

(Thanks to Brian Foley from The College Baseball Blog for the heads-up about the game.)

Update: Holy cow – this wasn’t Wood’s only outing of the weekend.  On Friday, he went two innings and threw thirty pitches against Army.  That’s 15 innings and 199 pitches in about 24 hours.  I hope it was worth it.  And for the record, Boston College closer Mike Belfiore also saw a ton of action, pitching an inning on Friday and 9 2/3 more on Saturday.  Not sure if he got into the elimination game against Army today.

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