FanPost

Grantland crucifies Dusty on Prior, Wood... and Strasburg

If anyone doubted how badly Dusty Baker destroyed the Cubs' single greatest chance a a title in our generation, read the latest from Grantland on pitch counts and the decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg. The thesis: it's probably dumb to shut down Strasburg now, because literally every team in baseball EXCEPT THE CHICAGO CUBS had recognized the destructive effect of high pitch count games by the 1990's, and Strasburg, on the other hand, has been treated intelligently, and could survive more intelligent use.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8369941/history-shows-washington-nationals-shut-stephen-strasburg-too-soon#footnoteref3

The Cubs, the author notes, wanted no part of that intelligence. The Dusty Baker Cubs were literally the LAST team to adopt pitch count limits.

The author compares Strasburg with Kerry Wood - really the only analogue as a young superstar receiving TJ surgery - and charts Wood's successful return... until a couple years later when the Cubs let him make 21 consecutive 100 pitch starts. 21. For a pitcher 1 year removed from TJ surgery. Strasburg's high streak for 21 pitch starts is 3. And the Dusty "sent Wood to the galleys" in 2003, blowing up his pitch counts With 13 120+ pitch outings, including a 141 pitch outing - the "15th most pitches of any start this century."

The saddest paragraph points out Mark Prior's run of 130+ pitch starts in late 2003 (including that 119 pitch NLCS outing with the Cubs up 11-0).... and notes that Prior made more 130 pitch starts in September and October of 2003 than every pitcher in baseball COMBINED in the entire 2012 season.

Bottom line- it's been a couple of decades with pitch count limits, and the data is in. Teams have universally adopted limited pitch counts for young pitchers, and injury rates have dramatically decreased. The Cubs, of course, were last to the party. After 29 other MLB teams had adopted pitch counts' efficacy as gospel, they questioned the manliness of reporters who dared to question their stupidity, and overworked Prior and Wood as no other MLB manager would overwork any pitcher, ever again.

So, maybe the author is right and it's silly to shut Strasburg down. But even that author calls the Cubs insanely stupid for, essentially, intentionally destroying the two greatest Cubs of their generation.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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