Mike Leake and his workload

Baseball tends to have a rule, the Verducci Rule as some call it, that a young pitcher doesn't exceed 30 innings pitched in a season over his previous career high. Mike Leake threw 142 innings last season for Arizona State, then took 5 months off before going to the AFL, so I can't really add those innings in like I have seen some others do. That ideally would put Leake on pace for 170 innings or so before you would like to 'shut it down' if you abide by the +30 rule.

This all got me thinking though, as Mike Leake isn't your typical 'young pitcher'. He is averaging less than 15 pitches per inning, routinely getting through 6 innings in 90 or fewer pitches. So I decided to look at all pitchers with 1 inning in either direction of Leake (between 59-61 IP this season) and how many pitches they would throw if they kept their current pace so far and threw 200 innings this season.

After the jump is the list, sorted by most pitches on pace to throw for 200 innings:

Pitcher IP Pitches If he threw 200ip
Clayton Kershaw 59.33 1052 3546
Joe Saunders 59.33 1000 3371
Jon Garland 60 1006 3353
Paul Maholm 61 990 3246
John Danks 60.67 978 3224
Matt Cain 59.33 956 3223
Brett Meyers 61 968 3174
David Price 59.67 943 3161
Roy Oswalt 61 950 3115
Bronson Arroyo 59.33 918 3095
Barry Zito 61 927 3039
Scott Baker 60.33 909 3013
Mitch Talbot 60.33 892 2957
Mike Leake 60 887 2957
Hirokia Kuroda 59.33 877 2956
Mark Buehrle 59.33 877 2956
Livan Hernandez 60.67 895 2950
Tim Hudson 60.33 865 2868

Now looking solely at the extreme of things, I ran the difference between Mike Leake and the Dodgers stud Clayton Kershaw over pitches thrown. If Mike Leake were given the 3546 pitches that Kershaw is on pace for over 200 innings, Mike Leake would throw an additional 40 innings in the exact same amount of pitches. Likewise, if we gave Kershaw the 2957 pitches that Leake would be on pace for over 200 innings, Kershaw would only throw 166.2 innings.

So while Leake is on pace for a lot of innings, I don't quite think that the +30 rule quite applies to him like it may for others who aren't quite as efficient with their pitches. I don't want to see Leake throw 225 innings this year by any means, but simply using an innings limit on Leake based on the +30 seems a little short sighted given how large of a difference we can get by simply being pitch efficient compared to some other young pitchers.