“Dangit Counsell! Why’d you pull Lyles from a no-hitter??” Many fans were wondering this as Lyles did not come back out in the 7th inning, and the first thought is to blame Counsell. Lyles had thrown 99 pitches and it would be unfeasible to think he could have gone the distance with that pitch count. When Mike Fiers threw his no-hitter earlier this season, he threw 131 pitches. He was one of only seven pitchers since 2000 to throw over 130 in a no-hitter. Lyles was on pace for well over 130 pitches which is a count not seen very often in today’s game. Lyles was averaging 16.5 pitches per inning. Say he pitches the last three innings at an average of 15 pitches, he would be at 144 pitches on the night which would be the 3rd highest total in a no-hitter since 2000.
As a fan, it hurts to see a pitcher exit a no-hitter. No-hitters are not by any means common, and it is exhilarating to see one. With the quality of pitchers today and also the emphasis on pitch counts, the Lyles situation seems like something that is increasingly common.
The chart shows just how much pitch count has been taken into account in the last decade. Teams now see their pitchers as an investment and would rather keep them healthy than blow out their shoulder trying for a no-no. This is what Lyles had to say after the game
“It would have been different if it was through seven [innings],” said Lyles, who walked Arizona first baseman Christian Walker twice. “My velo was not there. I think I was 90-92 [mph] the whole game. I saw a couple of 89s the last inning. It was working, but 100 pitches after six innings. If we’re being optimistic and say 10 pitches per inning, that’s 130. I haven’t seen that, ever.”
Lyles must not have paid attention to the Fiers no-hitter, but he was on point with his pitch count comment. In addition, he saw that his performance was no longer there. This is just part of the culture of baseball we are in. Back in the 80s managers kept their workhorses out there even in tough spots. The pitchers were expected to throw over 120 pitches regularly. There are countless articles on the web discussing the prevalence of limiting pitch counts. While no-hitters are fun for everyone, it is the wise decision to not push a pitcher. Since arriving in Milwaukee, Lyles has a 2.67 ERA and has thrown at least five innings with 1 ER or less in 4 of his 5 starts. Lately, he has been the Brewers best pitcher and it is important to make sure he is not being pushed too hard when the Brewers need him most.