But with the way things are going, I may have to rename the cult.
In recent years, managers have become increasingly reluctant to allow starting pitchers to throw much more than 100 pitches in a game, taking them out no matter how well they are doing as soon as they get a bit past 100 throws. But last season and now this season, we’ve started to see pitchers getting taken out well under 100 pitches, for no real discernable reason other than it gets to be the 7th inning!
Take tonight’s game between the Dodgers and the Rockies. After six innings, the Dodgers were leading 1-0. Rockies starter Rodrigo Lopez had only allowed a single run in the first inning and had only thrown 68 pitches. Only 68! Dodgers starter Brett Tomko had thrown 92 pitches, but was working on a one-hit shutout! And yet, when the 7th inning rolled aroun, both pitchers were removed from the game!
For what reason? Merely because it was the seventh inning of a close game, and in those situations you have your 1-2-3 relievers which you are supposed to throw in the 7t, 8th, and 9th. It seems like pitch counts aren’t even what matters anymore, only what inning it is.
If managers are going to be this risk averse and always follow the conventional wisdom for using their pitchers (ie, always throw your two setup men and closer starting in the 7th inning of a 1-run game), why even have managers at all? Let’s just have the players consult one of those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books from the 1980s.
“Is it the 7th inning? Turn to page 43.”
“Is it a one-run game? Bring in your second best setup man and turn to page 71.”
But seriously, even R.A. Montgomery wouldn’t pull a pitcher after only 68 pitches.