Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon attracted some attention this week when he expressed a desire to coax more complete games from the team's starting pitchers this season. If that means avoiding a slavish devotion to pitch counts, he's game.
Maddon, an innovative guy, should be commended for straying from the time-honored practice of managerial butt covering. But time will tell if he's a visionary or overzealous in his approach. More than a few alarmists are wondering whether the Rays shouldn't just dispense with the preliminaries, call Dr. James Andrews and book the room for Scott Kazmir's inevitable Tommy John surgery.
Pitch counts, as usual, are a trendy topic of conversation. The New York Times weighed in on the subject Sunday, and Keith Woolner of Baseball Prospectus wrote a piece on the correlation between pitches per plate appearance and workloads for pitchers. If today's hitters are more adept at working counts and fouling balls off, Woolner points out, 100 pitches aren't going to induce as many outs as they once did.