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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Medical Miracle Breakthrough?

The following is an excerpt from an article slated to be published in a forthcoming edition of The Metropolitan Journal of Sports Medicine, detailing critical work in the field of preservation of pitchers’ health.

The veritable plague of pitching-related injuries and subsequent Tommy John surgeries encountered a most serious challenge as the result of advances put forth in the summer of 2024 by a combined team of Drs. Stearns, Mendoza and Hefner when they prevented their patient, who we shall refer to as Christian S., from throwing more than 77 pitches in a given baseball game. The “organization,” as the consortium of doctors labeled themselves, determined in advance of Christian S.’s forthcoming outing that he would be removed from his starting assignment at roughly 75 pitches, no matter how well he was doing. Pitchers prior to this start routinely approached 100 pitches, indicating a pitcher pitching well could be left to proceed as if nothing was wrong with him.

As it happened, Christian S. was doing very well, having pitched five-and-two-thirds innings and giving up only one hit, a two-run home run to Oneil C., and walking only one opponent. Christian S. appeared vital enough to continue pitching without restriction and face at least one more batter, the dangerous Bryan R., an All-Star performer Christian S. had retired twice previously in the same contest. A similar outcome would have required only a handful of additional pitches from Christian S. to complete six full innings and position the organization for immediate success.

This is where the breakthrough work of Drs. Stearns, Mendoza and Hefner came into play. Adhering to their notion that approximately 75 pitches should be all Christian S. — then 25 years old and showing no physical ailments — be allowed to throw, Christian S. was removed in favor of Eric O., a then unknown reliever being asked to make his first appearance at the highest level of his profession in a tie game at the end of a road trip that would be described either as “winning” or “.500,” depending on the outcome of the game in progress.

In the short term, the decision to remove Christian S. in favor of Eric O. proved deleterious to the competitive health of the organization, as Eric O. (who did not pitch altogether badly) failed to set down any of the required three batters he faced and allowed the even score he inherited to become a deficit. Eric O. gave way to Adrian H., and things got inalterably worse from there.

While pitching machinations are the focus of our study, it should be noted that the organization’s offensive interests weren’t served by any member other than Brandon N., as none of Brandon N.’s colleagues found a way to counter the strengths of familiar organizational impediment Mitch K. (see “Finger of Starling M. and Fate,” September 2022). All of this is to say that the game was lost in multiple fashions.

While an 8-2 defeat and a dispiriting end to a road trip amid a highly charged playoff-berth pursuit dominated the thoughts of those who were invested in the fortunes of the organization in the summer of 2024, the long-term effects of the removal of Christian S. potentially proved beneficial, as throwing only 77 pitches, when to all observers he had the capability to throw a few more, conceivably guaranteed not only continued health for Christian S. but might have provided a road map for all young pitchers forever more.

“It turned out it was just that simple,” according to a statement issued under the names of Drs. Stearns, Mendoza and Hefner. “We pick a specific number of pitches; the pitcher is not permitted to exceed it by much regardless of game situation; and then everything is fine. Clearly it’s as easy as all that, because we’re pretty sure nobody had ever thought to put a young pitcher on a pitch count before. If they had, none of them would have been subject to injury, right?”

9 comments to Miracle Medical Breakthrough?

  • LeClerc

    Even Mendoza was embarrassed by his own idiotic decision.

  • Peter Scarnati

    When are managers going to learn that baseball is not played by following a script?

  • Joey G

    When will these guys wake up and realize that this group-think pitch count nonsense is a fool’s errand. Hard throwers are going to go down when they do, it cannot be planned for, and all they are doing is reducing their chances of winning by regularly putting inferior “relief” performers on the mound. So the metrics guys tell you that there is no such thing as a hot hand and confidence doesn’t matter? Ridiculous. Bob Gibson got better as the games went on, Seaver and Ryan pitched complete games into their 40’s. It is impossible to put power pitchers in a bubble to preserve them for posterity. Let them pitch!

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Well, the last outing he left Christian S. in one batter too long, so maybe that was a factor. That time he was up around 98 pitches. But yeah, he should have left him in.

    • eric1973

      Hey folks, don’t forget, if we win, it will be tougher to trade everybody, and that is truly what Stearns wants to do.

      If Scott is treated like a regular pitcher, we have a better chance to win.

      And that’s not really what he wants, is it?

  • Seth

    I guess they’re saving him for 2025.

  • Eric

    I doubt there would be the same protest if Scott had thrown 1 more pitch, got the out, and been pulled after 6. If the bullpen had been tasked 9 outs instead of 10, would they have been able to hold the tie? For the Mets with this bullpen, a tied game, or a 1-2 run lead for that matter, is like losing. A 4-6 run lead is like a 1-2 run lead.

  • Eric

    Apparently the primary factor with the strict pitch count this game is that it was the first time Scott has ever pitched on 4 days rest at any level, and his next start will also be on 4 days rest. So the ‘script’ is about managing that transition more than generally protecting Scott. Transitioning Scott to 4 days rest is a strong indicator that Scott is here to stay, instead of going back to AAA to pitch on his accustomed rotation.

    Which is to say, I imagine once Scott gets used to pitching on 4 days rest, the pitch-count leash won’t be as tight. On the other hand, maybe the primary factor really is generally protecting the prized rookie and Scott will stay on strict pitch counts and maybe skipped starts the rest of the way. We’ll see.

    Going with a 5-man rotation makes sense to keep the alternative reliever. A 6-man rotation of starters that go chronically short in games just means a smaller overtaxed bullpen.

  • open the gates

    Getting in late on this convo, but my first time at Shea featured (among other good things) Mike Torrez pitching 10 innings of shutout baseball. Wonder when was the last time that happened?