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Has UNC been abusing pitchers’ arms?

MattHarveyMetsThe Matt Harvey news that he has a partially torn UCL and could be having Tommy John Surgery soon came out today. There was a very active twitter discussion on whether his torn UCL could be traced back to his collegiate days at North Carolina. These are just the facts of the amount of innings and some of the insane pitch count totals that Harvey had during his career with the Tar Heels.

Harvey’s freshman season during 2008 season saw him pitch in 19 games (16 starts) for a total of 67.2 innings pitched while going 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. His pitch count totals do not show up on the Boyd’s World Pitch Count Report. He followed up that season playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Chatham Anglers pitching in nine games (one start) with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 0.83 for a total of 21.2 innings.

His numbers for his sophomore season in 2009 saw him pitch in 21 games (13 starts) while going 7-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 75 innings pitched. He shows up on the Boyd’s World Pitch Count Report with one appearance of a pitch count between 121-132 pitches. He played that summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League again with the Chatham Anglers. This time he worked out of the bullpen primarily appearing in seven games (three starts) with a 0-2 record and an ERA of 6.00 in 18 innings.

The real danger really happened during his junior and the first time he was eligible for the MLB Draft during 2010. He pitched in 14 games (all starts) going 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA including two complete games in 96 innings pitched. His name shows up on the Boyd’s World Pitch Count Report seven times. On two occasions he tossed more then 133 pitches and between 121-132 on five different occasions.

This isn’t the first time that pitch counts at UNC have come under question in the last few months. During the NCAA Tournament, Twitter lit up when North Carolina brought back Kent Emanuel after one day of rest in the 2013 NCAA Chapel Hill Regional. On June 1st, Emanuel pitched 7.2 innings tossing 124 pitches in a winner’s bracket game against Towson. After getting a day of rest on Sunday, he pitched in a winner take all game against Florida Atlantic on Monday. He came in during the eighth inning pitching a total of 1.2 ineffective innings while tossing 51 pitches.

So has Mike Fox and North Carolina abused these two arms? Can they be blamed for Harvey’s injury at all?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

  • Mark

    Don’t forget Alex White. Another starting pitcher, over used at in the postseason then to the Cape afterward. Only to have Tommy John once in the majors and currently recovering from it.

    Fox has shredded some arms in his futile Omaha attempts.

    • I don’t follow the Indians that closely but knew White was up but didn’t know he got Tommy John.
      Brian Foley
      Editor of College Baseball Daily

    • fred4945

      Same as with Harvey:

      White pitched 150 innings for the Indians in 2010 and 160+ innings for the Rockies in 2012. You want to claim HIS 2013 INJURY results from 2010?!?

      Maybe it was because he threw too many pitches in high school. Maybe they didn’t teach him to throw a proper curve in little league.

      Is there any factual basis for these allegations, at all? I understand that the original post was just reporting what’s on social media. But everyone else jumps in with unsubstantiated accusations.

      Some guy claimed a high school or college pitcher should never throw more than 110 pitches. Where is the data to back that up? I’ve coached 35+ years and I’ll tell you unequivocally that there is no factual basis for imposing a national- formula pitch ceiling on anybody who isn’t recovering from an injury. How many pitches are too many? It depends on the time of year. It depends on the days’ rest and whether the pitcher has experienced recent difficulties. More than anything, it depends on the pitcher. And that’s something a coach should be qualified to read.

      Do some coaches over-use their pitchers? Yes, certainly. Does that justify a set formula — let alone blaming a coach for an injury which happened to a guy three years after he pitched for that coach? Absolutely no.

  • jimmy

    I think more investigation may be needed, and a look into the coaches history. Pitch counts should never go above 110, if the pitcher is playing in the next five days. Just my opinion…

  • johnnny ray

    Abuse is the word I would describe. They need pitch counts for high school and college. You need to protect the KIDS….

  • Mike Murray

    Really hard to lay an injury like Harvey’s at the feet of Coach Fox. Dr. Jobe says there’s not much that will prevent this in hard-throwing pitchers and that, if it’s going to happen, it will. Nolan Ryan, of the four-pitcher rotation era, thinks pitchers don’t throw enough today. Injuries are part of sports pitchers hurt their arms. Just hope for a full and fast recovery.

  • fred johnson

    Let me get this straight…

    Matt Harvey is drafted in 2010. In 2011, he pitches 135 innings of minor-league ball. In 2012, he throws 159 innings in the big leagues and minors. This year, he throws 178 innings — 11th highest in MLB — and you’re wondering if his injury was caused by his pitching in college, THREE YEARS AGO?

  • Rocky

    I love when guys, who never played or were involved or dont know any of the parties invovled, start trying to lay blame at someones feet. These guys have been the “studs” for their respective teams for years…dating back to little league. Every time there has been a big game they have been asked to take the ball…and they have. You cant lay this at any one persons feet…its just not fair. Only when a pitcher comes up and says I was asked to pitch while I was sore…or made to go out there when I didnt want too…will you be able to do that. There are the stories of White and Harvey…both power pitchers who “broke”…but instead of people saying it could be with the innings and work in the minors and new pitching coaches it is easier to say oh it was Fox and Forbes. Truth is colleges all over the place are having this problem…the kids show up as broken goods and for them to make it to their junior/senior years is a miracle. How about we start looking at playing high school ball, summer ball and for three different travel teams at one time? How about the fact they show up UNC having played over one hundred games during the spring and summer. College coaches dont shred arms…dads who want the scholarship or signing bonus do…idiots!

    • Kane

      There’s a good reason why pitch counts have become standard in baseball. 100 years of ruined arms and young pitchers whose careers ended at 27, or earlier. Throwing a baseball overhand is an unnatural act and all pitchers will eventually need arm surgery if they pitch long enough but coaches who put their own needs ahead of those of young men who’ve been entrusted to their care. Whether or not the arm injuries were due to pitch loads in college, the minors, or the majors is nit picking; there is no excuse whatsoever for the kind of workloads placed upon Carolina pitchers. There is a history of Fox overworking his pitchers.

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