Even though I have been watching baseball for quite some time now, there are still questions that come up while I’m watching games. Most of these are probably common knowledge for anyone actually playing the games. But, since that’s not me, I question them. One has to do with a starting pitcher’s ‘throw days”
Many times, usually during the playoffs, you’ll hear that a starting pitcher is available to come in from the bullpen. Usually, the reasoning is that, since it’s the pitcher’s “throw day” he can go an inning or two. So, I’m left to wonder how exactly a throw day works.
While I’ve never seen it specifically spelled out, I think I can guess at what a throw day is. My assumption is that with a 5 man rotation, a pitcher’s workload goes something like: start, off day, off day, off day, off day, start. There may be an extra off day in there depending on the team’s schedule. My assumption is that the day following a start is probably a light day to rest the arm. I would also assume that the day before a start is also light, to save the arm for the next day’s start. But, I imagine the arm doesn’t like having four days with no activities, so there’s some throwing scheduled to keep the arm loose. So, it would seem that one of the other two off days would be designated as a “throw day.” Judging by how long these starters pitch when the come in from the pen on their throw day, they probably throw 20 or 30 pitches on their throw day. That’s enough to keep them loose, without taxing their arms. That much I think I’m pretty close on. On one of the off days between starts, pitchers throw 30 pitches to stay loose. But, when?
Playoff games start as late as possible these days. If a game starts at 8:00, it must be 10 or so by the time bullpen help would be discussed. So, if a starter is available because it is his throw day, he must not have already “thrown,” right? Would you have a starter throw his 30 pitches in the afternoon, and then another 30 pitches that night? The pitcher must have been saving his throws in case he needs them during the game. But, what if they’re not needed? He still has to throw, right? Does he do it after the game? Some of those playoff games aren’t over until midnight. Does the pitcher hang around after the game, have a bite to eat, then head out to the bullpen at 1 AM to get his throwing in? That seems weird.
So, like I said, there’s probably a very simple answer. I just don’t know it. Does anyone else know?
How does a “throw day” work?
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