They Still Work Their Aces Hard in Japan
Hanshin Tigers’ ace Randy Messenger threw 145 pitches in his last start a few days against the Chunichi Dragons. It was the fourth time he’d thrown at least 145 pitches in a game since May 23rd of last year.
This isn’t simply a case of the Tigers’ working a highly paid foreigner as hard as they can while they can. The Tigers signed Messenger to a big three-year deal last off-season (most likely, $10 million guaranteed with another $5 million in incentives), so they have every reason to try to keep him healthy.
A few things to be said about the heavy workloads, however. Messenger, who is currently listed as 6’6″ and 266 lbs, is certainly built to be a horse. Also, he hasn’t shown any ill effects of the work so far — he’s pitching as well as he ever has. Finally, NPB starters only pitch about once a week, due to more off days and rain-outs in NPB than MLB.
In MLB, it’s a big deal if a pitcher throws 145 pitches in a game and usually happens only if a pitcher is trying to throw a no-hitter or it’s a really big late-season game.