June 27, 2017

Most Pitches Thrown In Five Or Fewer Innings

On June 6, Drew Pomeranz threw 123 pitches against the Yankees, in only five innings. He allowed six hits and two walks - not outrageous totals - and he faced only four or five batters in each inning. Pomeranz's pitches by inning: 18-27-19 30-29. In the 30-pitch fourth inning, he faced only four batters (5-5-12-8).)

I started wondering about the most pitches thrown in five or fewer innings. Of course, because pitch count data does not exist for most of major league baseball's history, we have a limited amount of data. I searched Baseball Reference's utterly awesome Play Index for games in which the starting pitcher recorded 15 or fewer outs and threw 120 or more pitches. I got a list of 81 games, all but two of which are since 1988.

Most Pitches: Dennis Martinez of the Expos threw 136 pitches in five innings on April 13, 1991 against the Mets, allowing five hits and walking six.

Fewest Innings: No pitcher for whom we have data has thrown 120+ pitches in fewer than four complete innings. Darren Oliver of the Cardinals lasted four innings against the Mets on June 19, 1999, throwing 121 pitches and allowing seven hits and five walks.

Repeat Offenders: Several pitchers appear on the list twice, but only one man is there three times: Al Leiter, who had two such starts in 1999.

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