So last night was another gem by our pleasant surprise Randy Wells. I'd hate to think about where our team would be without him this year. His stats are truly impressive for a rookie:
16 GS 2.73 ERA 160 ERA+ 1.143 WHIP 2.0 BB/9
And I agree with Al, that he should be the front runner for ROY. But I'd sure like to caution against pushing a young pitcher too soon. I know we need him for our playoff push this year but if we keep pushing him this hard for the rest of the year I think we may be risking something we aren't thinking about right now.
Wells has pitched 102 innings for the Cubs this year. Add to that the 26 innings he already pitched in the minors before being called up and you have 128 innings. If he stays in the rotation for the rest of the year, he will get 11 more starts. So far in his 16 starts, he has averaged 6.38 innings per start. If he continues that trend for the rest of the year, he will log another 70 innings this year. That will be almost 200 innings for a pitcher in his first full year in the big leagues.
The big leagues have been littered with stories on how young pitchers were pushed too hard, too early and then the next couple of years battling devastating injuries. Tom Verducci wrote something about this before:
Why can't they throw 200 innings? Simply put, they're not conditioned for it yet. It's like training for a marathon. You need to build stamina incrementally. The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It's a general rule of thumb, and one I've been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it's amazing how often they pay for it.
Here are the innings pitched for Wells leading up to this year:
2009 (potentially 198 innings)
I know we need the guy this year, but I'd caution against potentially ruining or sidetracking his career for our short term goals.