How Daniel Norris ended up with a 54-pitch inning

Daniel Norris took the mound Tuesday night with a pitch count around 80-85 in his third start back from the disabled list, having missed nearly a month with an oblique strain. It wasn’t simply a limit; it was a goal to get him there.

By the time he stepped back in the dugout, he had used up 54 pitches.

“It’s tough,” manager Brad Ausmus said, “because we wanted to get his pitch count up so his next start he can throw more pitches [Sunday against the White Sox in his final start], but we also don’t want him to expend himself in one inning.”

He came very close.

“[Chris] Gimenez would’ve been the last guy had he not retired him,” Ausmus said.

Gimenez was the ninth batter in the Rangers lineup. Two of the previous eight had reached on errors — Delino DeShields on a ground ball that Ian Kinsler couldn’t handle, Mike Napoli on a fly ball that first baseman Jefry Marte didn’t get under and dropped, capping a 10-pitch at-bat without an out. Norris immediately asked for the ball, looking to pick up his defense.

“As far as errors go, that’s part of the game,” Norris said. “It’s gonna happen. I’ve always got their back. They’ve got mine.”

Norris still didn’t have an out at that point, having crossed the 30-pitch mark. He finally got one on an Mitch Moreland groundout. Even that was arguably misplayed, as third baseman Nick Castellanos took the safe out at first base rather than try to force out Prince Fielder at third base beforehand.

Norris, too, had his share of miscues. Shin-Soo Choo followed Ian Kinsler by jumping a first-pitch fastball for a two-run homer.

“I left that pitch up,” Norris said. “If I make my pitch, it’s a double play maybe. … The fact of the matter is, if I make my pitches, I get out of there with less than 54 pitches.”

That said, he was still out there well into his 40s. Rougned Odor used seven pitches out of him before hitting an RBI triple to score Napoli, leaving Norris at 46 pitches with Gimenez due up. Norris’ velocity was still strong, his adrenaline carrying him, but the count itself was a worry. Buck Farmer had been warming in the bullpen for a few batters.

Ausmus has let pitchers work their way out of the opening inning through 50 pitches or more this season. David Price used 51 pitches in the first inning against the Yankees back in April. Randy Wolf used 50 pitches in the first at Cleveland a couple weeks ago in the second game of a doubleheader. Neither made it past the third.

Both Price and Wolf are veteran pitchers. Norris is just 22. He has experience with high pitch counts early — 78 pitches over three innings for the Blue Jays on April 30, 83 pitches over 3 1/3 innings in his second start as a Tiger Aug. 7.

“I’ve been here before,” Norris said. “All in all, I felt pretty good throwing the ball. It’s just one of those days.”

Said Ausmus: “I think the first inning probably taxed him a little bit, but like I said, we also wanted to get his pitch count up enough so that his next start he could stick around. It was a very blurred line [on a limit].”

Norris and Gimenez battled for eight pitches before Norris got the out.

“I don’t know if I would’ve let him take me out,” Norris said. “I wanted to stay out there. Obviously it’s his decision, but I’m glad he let me in. Regardless of what other people think, that shows the confidence he has in me to let me go back out for the second inning. I appreciate that, for sure.”

He wasn’t out there for long. After a DeShields double, Choo groundout and Adrian Beltre single, Norris retired Prince Fielder and got the hook there. He was at 71 pitches.

“We wanted him to go 80-85 today,” Ausmus said, “but after he retired Fielder, I just felt like with the 50-pich inning, just over 70 pitches [total], his velocity started to dip down from 94-95 to 90-91. At that point, right-hander coming up, Farmer coming up, just get him out of there. He should be able to throw 80, 85, 90 next time out.”

According to STATS, Norris’ 54-pitch first inning was the longest inning of any kind by a Major League pitcher since former Pirates starter Paul Maholm threw a 54-pitch third inning against the Cardinals on May 9, 2010. It was the longest opening inning since then-Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez threw 55 pitches at Atlanta on Aug. 1, 2007.

22 Comments

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Where is Miguel? before last night, last 10 games:
344.450.375.825 6 RBI 4 R 6 BB

Where are you getting that? Mlb.come

Last 7
23ab/2runs/hits/1rbi/5bb/7so/.261avg/0HR

Last 15
50ab/ 11hits/6rbi/10bb/9so/,221ba/0HR

Last 30
104ab/ /23 hits/1hr/11rbi/16bb/22so/.221 ba

Hasn’t hit a homer since August 26th and 2 since he came back from Aug. 14th… his doubles have disappeared as well 3 in Sept. .276 slugging %

I know in your eyes Miggy is beyond criticism but his power is GONE he is barely squeaking a single through the infield most days. His batting avg has dropped 40 points. How can you continue to believe that it is ok? It shocks me.

Baseball -reference

After last night he is down to :324.442.353.795 over last 10.
He is walking a lot to.Pitchers are not afraid of Victor or JD. With game on line , he pitched around. And as usual, he tries to hit bad pitches. Normally, he would hit hard those pitches too
He is not beyond criticism. But he had off season surgery. had no complete ST and lost 6 weeks to calf injury. Still leads the AL in Avg and OBP. He will be the 4th hitter ever to do that 4 times in the AL. And the first RH . So, Im not worried. I will be worried if in March he still lacks power.

And it is disrespectful for baseball and for him bench him to secure the batting tittle.

He is not to blame for the sorry state of this team, his bWAR 5.1.Second behind Kinsler. 5,1 bWAR is worth in the open market around 35 MM. He earned his money.

A season last 162 games, a player is valued over the season not over one or two games. His wRC is 163 , 4th in MLB. Even without HR , he keeps producing runs.

Interesting bit: Miguel ISO 191. Fielder 163
ISO”Average number of extra bases per at bat, calculated several ways such as SLG minus AVG”

Corcoran
“Ausmus, whom it was just announced on Saturday will indeed return as the Tigers’ manager next season, wasn’t reckless with one of his organization’s most valuable assets
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Since 2009, a pitcher has thrown 50 or more pitches in a single inning just 18 times. .. Ausmus has now allowed it to happen three times this season alone and four times in his two years at the helm in Detroit, good for 22% of those total instances in the past seven years”

Valvarde was close, 60 in 1.1 but only 48 in the 9th

No, Miggy is not beyond criticism, no player is. Right now he looks fatigued. Hard to swing for power if your body is sapped. I think he did all he could this year given the circumstances. I am not worried about him going into next year. It’s what the rest of the team looks like that has me worried. Hopefully Al Avila makes the right moves.
Leaving Norris in with such a high pitch count…….I have no idea if it was the right or wrong decision. But, I felt bad seeing him out there struggling. My wimpy female emotional side.

I remember a quote from my poker playing days. “It is only a small mistake to fold when you have the best hand”. In other words, taking him out after 30 or so pitches and the struggles would have only been a small mistake if at all. Leaving him in for 50+ pitches and ruining his career is a big mistake. When you look at it from that perspective, as well as there is nothing to gain from leaving him in. You have to wonder if the the Tigers front office will do another flip-flop on Ausmus.

Totally agree!

Let’s get some pitch count advice from Mickey Lolich and Jack Morris!
C’mon, the 54 pitches are not going to runin a career.

Gk, I defended Miggy to you earlier in the season. But, as you have pointed out, Miggy’s performance since his return from injury has not been the same, most definitely as it relates to his power. Since Miggy has so often played thru injury, I just assume he’s doing the same now and has become merely mortal as a result.

It is crystal clear (at least to me) that Miggy could really benefit from losing a not insignificant amount of weight. The lower body injuries, the core injury—they indicate this. I also think his power may be affected by being to top-heavy and bulky and not having the upper body and leverage in his arms like he once had. Losing a little weight may lengthen his career and allow him to run the bases better and take advantage of his very good base-running instincts.
I’ve actually been saying this for 3 years and my guess is he as actually gained weight year over year.

That I agree with. Those injuries also prevented him from doing his usual workouts, I’m sure. It’s a bad circle.

Many of us are from an era which did not have pitch counts or inning stops. I can remember when plenty of starters were going 300 plus innings per season and the time 40-something Spahn matched up against a young Marichal in a 16 inning 1-0 duel where they threw an estimated combined 428 pitches. Pitches weren’t even tracked back then, the issue was considered so insignificant.

That said, when Norris had an early velocity dip it was time for him to go. BA did just that. But the whole thing was tuff to watch and was obviously tuff on Norris.

If Bowden has inside information, rejoice Tigers fans;
http://espn.go.com/blog/the-gms-office/insider/post?id=11478

I think that was a perfectly logical summary and that those points have been made on this blog numerous times.

Makes sense, the only thing that doesn’t make sense is Ausmus returning so far.

Lineup at TEX: Gose 8, Davis 7, Kinsler 4, J. Martinez DH, Collins 9, Castellanos 5, Avila 3, McCann 2, Romine 6. Boyd starts.

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