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Are pitchers taken out of games too soon when chasing individual accomplishments? Curt Schilling certainly thinks so.
During his most recent episode of The Curt Schilling Baseball Show, he was asked about Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito.
Giolito was recently facing the Philadelphia Phillies in Chicago and was dominant over six innings. He allowed just one walk, struck out seven, and most importantly, didn’t allow a single hit.
After 102 pitches, however, White Sox manager Pedro Grifol made the decision to remove Giolito from the game.
Reliever Aaron Bummer then gave up a hit in the 8th inning, ending the combined no-hit bid.
Schilling said the incident exemplified a dramatic change in how pitchers are managed in the modern game.
In that situation, Schilling said “there’s no f***** chance” he’d let his manager take him out. Even if he tried, he’d “still go out on the mound” regardless.
He went further, saying that “guys being ok with it is an enormous red flag” for how they’re coached in the minors.
Do Pitchers Have a Different Mentality Now?
Schilling’s assertion is that the modern “mentality” is different among pitchers.
And while it’s absolutely believable that there’d be “no f****** chance” he’d be removed in a similar situation, it’s not entirely the fault of the affected pitchers.
Teams in general have become much more risk averse, especially considering the money they invest in star players.
Especially with the advancements in diagnosing injuries for pitchers and attempting to avoid them. Schilling had a Hall of Fame career. And he was especially strong in his later seasons.
If he were pitching today with the level of success he had late in his 30’s, he’d be making ~$40 million per year.
Max Scherzer, for example, is making over $43 million per year. So is Justin Verlander.
Teams aren’t going to let pitchers chase individual accomplishments with 140+ pitch outings in mid-April.
In fact, a similar situation happened in 2022 with Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw had thrown just 80 pitches through seven perfect innings in an April start and was removed by manager Dave Roberts.
Kershaw’s an “old school” type pitcher with the same competitive temperament as those from prior generations. But he came out of the game without argument, realizing that the decision was made based on trying to avoid future injury.
While Schilling may have wanted to stay in during a similar situation, the economics of baseball have changed dramatically. His value to the team far exceeds the potential for a no-hitter.
There’s also a financial consideration for the pitchers, who could have their future earning potential jeopardized by injuries from excessive pitch counts.
It’s an understandable criticism and desire, but the game has permanently changed. And there’s not much pitchers can do about it.