What is the Highest Pitch Count in a Baseball Game?

In baseball, the pitch count is the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher in a game. Once a thrower has thrown 21 pitches (less than 1) or 31 pitches (15-1) in a game, they must rest and not participate in the throw. This is due to the fact that pitch counts have become more prominent, and pitchers are often removed from games regardless of whether they are tired or not or are still pitching effectively. Leon Cadore holds the MLB record for most pitches thrown in a game, as he pitched every inning in a 26-inning game in 1920.

Forty years ago, Warren Spahn, then 42, and Juan Marichal, then 25, threw 201 and 227 pitches, respectively, in their famous 16-inning match. The highest pitch count since 1990 is 172, made by Tim Wakefield for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Atlanta Braves on April 27, 1993; however, it should be known that Wakefield's main pitch was knuckleball, an out-of-speed pitch. Before pitch counting became popular in the 1980s, a pitcher would pitch mainly until they could no longer kick anyone out or the game was over. Opposing teams also pay attention to the pitch count and may try to commit fouls on as many pitches as possible (or at least on any hard-to-throw pitch), either to tire the thrower out or to inflate the number of pitches and kick the pitcher out of the game from the start in favor of a possibly less effective relief pitcher.

Often, a starting pitcher will be removed from the game after 100 pitches, regardless of the actual number of innings pitched, as this is considered the optimal maximum pitch count for a starting pitcher. Confidence in pitch counting has become so frequent and formulaic that coaches routinely explain the elimination of their starting pitchers by saying: Well, their pitch count was increasing. Nolan Ryan pitched 19 more seasons in the major leagues after his 46th birthday and broke his record for the seventh no-hitter at age 44. This shows that even with an increased focus on pitch counts, it is still possible for pitchers to have long and successful careers.

Rosanne Fajardo
Rosanne Fajardo

Lifelong bacon evangelist. Professional pop culture expert. Extreme social media evangelist. Total food guru. Hardcore travel junkie. Extreme reader.

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