Playing with Numbers: Hard-working pitchers

As the second half of the baseball season gets into full swing, it's time to take another look at which starting pitchers are most likely to see their stats start to swoon as a result of throwing far too many pitches. Remember, it's far too simple to merely check a list of who has thrown the most total pitches and determine an arbitrary cutoff point of say, 2,100 pitches, and declare that those above the line are due for "hitting the wall" and a falloff in performance. It just doesn't work that way. First of all, a pitcher who consistently works into the seventh inning and beyond, like a Roy Halladay, should be expected to have thrown more pitches than some older, "pray they make it through five innings" guys like Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux. Just because neither of the over-40 duo have reached the same lofty pitch count as the man more than 10 years their junior doesn't mean they're less likely to struggle as we approach September. If anything, fantasy owners hold their breaths each and every time a Maddux or a Johnson takes the mound, hoping each next pitch won't end up being the last of their careers.