Two of the Yankees young starters, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, last year took on a workload that for them is unprecedented and because of that are at risk of what Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci calls the Year After Effect.
Hughes saw the biggest increase in his innings jumping from a previous high of 146 innings pitched to 192 last year, a 46 inning jump. Nova’s increase was from 148.2 innings to 187, a difference of 38.1 innings.
But what is the Year After Effect? Glad you asked:
One small part of such understanding is monitoring the innings of young pitchers from one year to the next. More than a decade ago, drawing on the advice of pitching coach Rick Peterson, I developed a rule of thumb that pitchers 25 and younger should not increase their workload by more than 30 innings. It’s the same theory as training for a marathon: you risk injury by jumping from a 10K to the marathon instead of incremental increases. I called it the Year After Effect because the wear and tear often was followed by regression or injury the next year.
The concept of capping innings for young pitchers has become an industry standard. One AL general manager told me during spring training last year that his club’s organizational pitching reports now include a “VE” column — for Verducci Effect, a measurement of innings increase.
But this isn’t some kind of giant red flag for the Yankees though. Verducci actually used Hughes as an example of a guy who made this list but doesn’t come with a huge risk:
As happened last year, some pitchers pose much less of a risk of regression. Price, for instance, who turns 26 this season, and Hughes, who turns 25, fit the lower-risk profile: big bodies on the older side of the spectrum.
There is probably not a big worry for Nova as well. At 6’4″ he’s a pretty big player himself. Aside from that though he will be on the back end of the Yankees rotation, likely a no. 5 starter and a no. 4 at best. Because of that he’ll have less of a role and will be counted on for less. The Yankees are likely to keep an eye on him, but probably not more so than any of their pitchers under the age of 25.
Nova’s innings jump was also sizable last season, but he’s tossed at least 139 innings three years in a row now. Making a 38 inning jump isn’t as drastic. And because he finished at 187 innings last year, a jump to 200 innings in 2011 shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Essentially despite the fact that both Hughes and Nova made this list, both could potentially be counted on for 200 innings this season if need be. Not a bad situation to be in with two pitchers at the age of 25 and 23.