Varsity baseball players will be allowed to throw more pitches leading up to postseason play, following modifications to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s pitch count rules that were adopted in 2017.
The modifications are designed to give pitchers more time to “stretch out” before playoff competition, according to NYSPHSAA baseball coordinator Al Roy, and were introduced with player safety in mind.
The modifications, that impact only varsity-level athletes, will take effect in the 2021 season.
“They were going from 105 pitches to 125 with no preparation for that kind of jump,” Roy said. “This gives kids a chance to build up arm strength.”
The build up will occur in a new three-phase format that begins in March and allows for more pitches to be thrown in April, and even more in May and beyond.
“We were looking for a better progression,” Section II baseball coordinator Mike DeMagistris said. “I’m glad it passed. It’s going to help kids.”
In the past, a player could throw as many as 105 pitches in a day at any point in the regular season, with four nights rest to follow. That number jumped to 125 pitches for playoff games.
“A kid goes out and throws 125 pitches, and they’ve never been there. They’re not used to it,” DeMagistris said. “What we asked is, ‘How can we get them there?’”
The new rules will allow for a player to throw as many as 125 pitches beginning in May, with 105 the maximum allowed in April and 85 the max in March.
“You can have a kid in your first sectional game who has made two or three starts with 116, 117 pitches, and you know he can do it,” DeMagistris said. “You know he’ll be OK.”
The NYSPHSAA Central Committee approved the modifications last week at its annual meeting. Roy had presented the rule changes to the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee back in May after the state baseball and safety committees had approved them.
“They [NYSPHSAA Baseball Committee] felt this would help their kids and help their sport,” said NYSPHSAA director of communications Chris Watson.
The original pitch count rules included the following regular season pitching limits (96-105 pitches, four nights rest; 66-95 pitches, three nights rest; 31-65 pitches, two nights rest; 1-30 pitches, one night rest), and the following increased postseason limits (103-125 pitches, four nights rest; 72-102 pitches, three nights rest; 41-71 pitches, two nights rest; 1-40 pitches, one night rest).
The new pitch count rules, broken down by months, include for March (76-85 pitches, four nights rest; 46-75 pitches, three nights rest; 31-45 pitches, two nights rest; 1-30 pitched, one night rest; for April (96-105 pitches, four nights rest; 66-95 pitches, three nights rest; 31-65 pitches, two nights rest; 1-30 pitches, one night rest), and for May and beyond (103-125 pitches, four nights rest; 72-102 pitches, three nights rest; 41-71 pitches, three nights rest; 1-40 pitches, one night rest).
Roy said if the baseball season is played April 5-June 12 as part of the NYSPHSAA’s proposed 2021 three-season plan for winter, fall and spring sports in the event that fall sports are unable to be played in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he will recommend that the gradual pitching progression take place over those three months.