Pitching at a Premium in 2013

By Jake Oswalt
Central PA Director of Scouting

Old man winter got the last laugh on most of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2013. Baseball has had to take a back seat to snow storms. Players were required to stay patient and practice in school gyms, instead of on manicured baseball fields across the state.

With teams having to reschedule games later in the season, teams with deep pitching staffs will most likely be the most successful in 2013. Typical schedules have teams playing two or three games a week, but with the season delayed by a week or more for some teams, schedules will now include playing four games in a week once or twice this season.

Having to plan how to use their teams’ pitching staffs to fill out 28 innings (four games a week times seven innings in a game) will be the head coaches’ biggest challenge this spring. Figuring in rest and opposing matchups will play a role as well.

It would not be a surprise to see some high scoring games in weeks that teams play three or four games. Teams with deep lineups will feast on teams that do not have the necessary pitching depth. We will see what teams advance in the district playoffs and then the PIAA playoffs, but one key ingredient to even get to the post-season will be a teams’ pitching depth.

With the lack of outside practice, don’t be surprised to see low scoring games early in the year. This will be due to hitters not getting repetitions off of live pitching since most of the practices took place inside. Early in a baseball season, pitchers are usually ahead of hitters, especially in cold weather. Pittsburgh Pirate fans can attest to this after watching the Pirates’ first series against the Chicago Cubs.

Teams will need relievers that can go multiple innings several times a week. This strategy eats up innings and allows front line starters to stay on schedule and get their required rest. Also, these pitchers will continuously get their work in and will most likely stay sharp.

Any way you slice it, teams that do not have a deep and powerful offensive lineup will have to rely on good pitching depth to survive in their respective conferences. Playing four games a week will give high school players a taste of how a college baseball season will play out both physicality and mentally.

The good news is the snow has melted and it’s time to play ball, a welcome thought for high school athletic directors, coaches, players, and parents that had to anxiously wait for spring weather to finally arrive.

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