The number of innings thrown by a young pitcher is a front burner issue again with Phil Hughes the latest Yankee to find himself on the restricted list. Hughes turns 24 Thursday. He'll skip a start against the Dodgers.
Despite shorter seasons, pitchers often can throw more in college or the minors than when they get to the big leagues. To illustrate the difference: Washington Nationals’ rookie Stephen Strasburg pitched two years at San Diego State. At age 20, he threw 97 innings over 13 starts in 2008 and 109 innings in 15 games last season. And 55 more in the minors.
Hughes did not attend college. At age 20, he threw 146 innings in Class A and AA.
All of this is in preparation to throw five, six, maybe seven innings in the majors. Some studies have indicated that big league pitchers stay healthier over the long run by throwing fewer innings at the beginning of their careers. Of course, major league history shows a score of pitchers who averaged mega innings in their early 20s.