Jackson's 149 pitches could haunt Hinch
A major league manager was on the other side of the conversation, the topic was pitch counts, and he was being blunt.
"I think a lot of it is just [rear-end] covering," he said. "Who is to say that 100 pitches is the magic number? Or 110? Or 120? It's ridiculous. Not every pitcher is built the same; not every pitcher has the same body; and now, when we hit 100 pitches in a game, you start thinking about taking the guy out."
"You know why? You guys."
"The media. Because if you leave a guy in there for 125 or 130 pitches and something goes wrong down the road, that's what everybody is going to talk about. 'Oh, remember that day the manager left him in too long? The manager got him hurt.' The guy might already be on his way to having an injury, or it might be that he got hurt doing something else, but the media will focus on that game and point fingers at the manager."
"So instead of just making the decision with our eyes and taking a guy out when he starts to lose his stuff, we're taking them out based on pitch counts, and our [rears] are covered."
I was thinking about that conversation after Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch made the decision to allow Edwin Jackson to throw 149 pitches Friday night and finish his no-hitter against Arizona. The manager I spoke to has this dead-on: If Jackson happens to get hurt sometime in the next month, Hinch is going to get hammered in the media; everybody will point to the 149-pitch game as a possible reason for the injury.
And keep in mind: A.J. Hinch is a really smart guy; he knows this. It would have been really easy for Hinch to make pull Jackson after eight innings, after 134 pitches -- or even after the seventh, when Jackson already had accumulated 116 pitches.
But Jackson was still getting outs, and Hinch let him go back to the mound for the eighth inning, and then the ninth, and Jackson made history.
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