Baseball – National Federation Mandates Pitch Limits for all U.S. High Schools
Up until the 2016 high school baseball season, the limitations placed on pitcher's workloads in the state of New Jersey were based on innings pitched totals. According to an Associated Press report, that is set to change for the 2017 season.
According to the A.P. story, the National Federation of State High School associations instructed its members to adopt pitch count limits as part of their 2017 rules. the governing bodies of all 50 states and the District of Columbia are part of the Federation, so the mandate will affect N.J.
Currently, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association limits individual pitchers to 10 innings pitched during a period of four calendar days and pitchers who pitch one pitch into their sixth inning of work must wait four calendar days (three days rest) to appear again as a pitcher. Pitchers who throw one pitch into their fifth inning of work must wait three calendar days (two days rest) to appear as a pitcher.
As of now, there are no rules limiting pitch counts during the 10-inning limit in N.J. and new pitch count rules would, presumably, limit how many pitches a pitcher is allowed to throw in a given outing.
Those rules will not necessarily be affected by the National Federation's direction, but the report also stated that the federation will "no longer require its member associations to require a certain amount of rest between appearances by a pitcher.
According to the report, the National Federation will allow individual state governing bodies to determine pitch limits for their state, meaning the NJSIAA will determine the limit, how it is applied and enforced, and whether or not rest between appearances will still be part of pitching restrictions.
Texas is among the states in the U.S. that has already implemented a single-game pitch-count limit, which the state's governing body set at 125. According to the A.P. report, Alabama, Colorado and Kentucky are seeking to implement the same pitch limit, while Minnesota plans to set the regular-season limit at 105 and the postseason limit at either 115 or 120.
Little League Baseball is among the national entities that already operates with pitch limits. By Little League rule, pitchers are limited to 85 pitches in a given start, but can go over the limit if they reach the threshold in the middle of an at-bat. Once the at-bat is over, they are to be removed from the game as a pitcher.
While an official rules change will mean penalties for coaches who exceed recommended pitch-count limits, the vast majority of high school baseball coaches operate well within the realm of the 120-pitch limit that will likely be the high end of the spectrum among individual state's limits.
Once rare exception this past season was when Christian Brothers Academy pitcher Luca Dalatri threw 122 pitches in an eight-inning complete game on April 13 against Middletown South, during which he struck out 19 batters. Dalatri - the Gatorade N.J. Player of the Year for the second straight season and a University of North Carolina recruit - exceeded 100 pitches just one other time during the season, in which he thew 102 pitches in seven innings.