Steve Krah
Steve Krah
Baseball has been sports reporter Steve Krah's passion since childhood. In Season Tickets, there will be plenty of stories from the diamond, but that's not all. Look for stories about athletic happenings and personalties of all kinds.

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Reporter Steve Krah covers sports for the Elkhart Truth.

How many pitches are too many for a young baseball pitcher?

Former area mound standouts Ben Bailey and Ben Wagner weigh in on the debate.

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 7:44 p.m.

Do you know Dylan Fosnacht?

The baseball world at-large did not know the Washington high schooler until recently when he threw 194 pitches in a game and then let everyone know about it on Twitter.

Cy Young Award-winning pitcher David Price (@DAVIDprice14) issued this shoutout: haha you're a beast @DFosnacht5 ...but let's be a little smarter brotha!! Love the competitiveness though!! #urcoachshouldbefired.

So the debate on pitching rages on.

How many pitches are too many?

How many innings?

What's the right amount of rest between mound appearances?

What about mechanics?

And on and on.

Ben Bailey has his take on the subject.

Bailey was a starter at Westview High School who went on to Western Michigan University and pitched in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He is a longtime pitching coach and co-director for the Eastlake Chargers travel baseball organization.

"I don't like that the kids had to throw 194 pitches — that's crazy," says Bailey. "You ask 90 percent of the kids that are in that situation with a championship on the line if they are 'OK' to go on and they will say yes. At some point we need to send the message that "winning at all costs" is simply not a recipe for developing ballplayers."

Bailey says a change is called for in high school sports.

"Take the IHSAA for instance. They give baseball teams only two weeks for practice to get players ready to compete, but then allow unlimited number of pitches to be thrown. They are really setting themselves up for failure."

While the rules in the Pacific Northwest are different than Indiana, where the IHSAA says a pitcher can throw only 10 innings in a 72-hour period, Bailey says that does not keep teams from continually running the same player to the bump without enough recovery time or proper throwing mechanics.

While some say that throwing a baseball overhand is natural and that man has been doing it for centuries to bring down game, others will tell you it is not natural.

Either way, Bailey says there is a limit.

"If it takes a hunter 194 tries to bring down an animal, maybe he should be a gatherer," says Bailey. "Arm injuries happen when overuse meets inefficiency. And you never know when the breakdown is going to take place."

Bailey says that pain is different than soreness and throwing through severe pain in the soft tissue around the joints (elbow and shoulder) is a no-no.

"Pain leads to injury and injury leads to surgery," says Bailey.

Ben Taylor was a pitching standout at Elkhart Central High School and then at Goshen College, where he was an NAIA Player of the Week in 2005. That same year, he was an NAIA honorable mention All-American as was Bethel’s Justin Masterson.

He later coached successful pitchers at Elkhart Central including Tanner Tully, Cory Malcom and Riley Futterknecht.

Taylor had surgery at the end of his college career after piling up plenty of pitches as a teenager and into his 20s.

He racked up 157 pitches with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 10 innings against Warsaw in the 2001 Elkhart Sectional (a game eventually won by the Blue Blazers in 17).

In the first start of his senior season at Goshen, Taylor had a 134-pitch outing.

While he now says 115-120 pitches in a game is probably pushing the envelope for most pitchers, that was not his mindset back then.

"I wasn't going to take myself out of the game," says Taylor. "But my shoulder wasn't the same afterward."

Taylor, who changed his arm slot, had arthroscopic rotator cuff and labrum surgery.

But up until that last year at GC, there were no arm problems.

"I had a loose arm," says Taylor. "People emphasize pitch counts these days and there is some credence to it. But if you want to throw hard you have to throw (frequently)."

When he was pitching and now, Taylor endorses throwing the day after a start.

"You can break up some of the lactic acid and stiffness," says Taylor.

"You need to take things on a case-by-case basis. There is no set way to do it."

Major League Baseball has already had more than 30 pitchers this season that have been pegged for "Tommy John" reconstructive surgeries. There are bloggers like Will Carroll who are devoted to baseball injuries for pitchers and other players.

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