Nolan Ryan has told his employees to ignore pitch counts going forward:
Under the leadership of club president Nolan Ryan, the Texas Rangers have embarked on a pitching experiment that could be called "back to the future on the mound." The experiment may also have a major impact on the use of the dreaded pitch count which has been in vogue for perhaps too long in MLB.
Ryan has banished the use of the pitch count in determining how long a pitcher stays in the game through out the organization . . .
. . . "The ceiling is off," said [Mike] Maddux. "This is a mental thing we have to overcome. We have to change the attitude of the starters to want to go deep and believe they can . . . we want guys who want the ball deep in the game," said Maddux. He believes that the results of this experiment will be seen as early as June.
I'm not necessarily opposed to teams moving away from a slavish devotion to pitch counts as long as they have some means in place to monitor a pitcher's stamina and workload. Maybe by closely observing a guy a team can figure out what his "tells" are for when he's getting tired that would actually be more precise than specifying a 100-pitch limit, for example. Maybe such a system would allow guys to go longer in games when they truly are feeling great and maybe it would dictate that they be pulled earlier in games when they simply don't have it, thereby preventing injuries.
Which, it should be noted, does not sound at all like what the Rangers plan on doing. To the contrary, from what it sounds like, they plan on simply having their pitchers get in great condition and then challenge them to "go deep," with the implication that if they don't go deep, they won't be pitching in Texas long. Maybe that worked for Nolan Ryan, but doesn't everyone pretty much agree that Nolan Ryan was essentially a physical freak of nature? Is it a good idea to base a training and usage regimen for everyday mortals on what worked for a once-in-a-lifetime talent? Ryan may say that it worked back in the 70s, but how many young pitchers never made the big leagues in the first place due to arm injuries back in the 70s?
Of course, Ryan probably won't catch any hell for it if the Rangers wind up with multiple damaged arms in the next couple of years. He'll simply say that the guys with the bum elbows simply weren't tough enough, and he's enough of an icon in Texas that no one will think to disagree with him.