The national rules of high school baseball for the 2017 season will require for the first time that state high school associations adopt policies and procedures that limit the number of pitches that an individual player may make over a specified number of days.
Presently, Michigan High School Athletic Association rules state that a student may not pitch more than three consecutive days regardless of the outs pitched, and shall not pitch for two calendar days following that in which the player pitched his 30th out.
In the past, there has not been consensus among Michigan high school baseball coaches or support by the MHSAA Baseball/Softball Committee to impose a specific pitch count; and the new national rule does not prescribe what the maximum count should be or how it should be applied.
The MHSAA will convene a group of coaches and administrators this month to discuss the many questions created by the nebulous national mandate. The group’s challenge is to craft a rule that will not result in students pitching more than they do under the current rule, especially at earlier grade levels, and a rule that is as simple to monitor and manage as the current rule.
The proposal of this study group will be reviewed by baseball coaches and school administrators throughout Michigan before submission for action by the Representative Council in December.
Michigan’s climate and culture within high school baseball probably makes a change in the MHSAA pitching rule unnecessary for the high school season. And sadly, any change made for high school play is likely to have little or no effect on the summer and fall ball that may be much more damaging to young arms than the high school season which often is much more restrained in the number of games per day and per season than non-school baseball.
We can hope, of course, that the additional focus on pitching risks at the high school level will be seen and taken seriously outside the high school season.