Nolan Ryan was with the Texas Rangers until this past October, and before that he ended his playing career with the Rangers when he was a remarkable 46 years old. Ryan never dealt with serious arm trouble until late — very late — in his career.
Knowing Ryan's approach to pitching from his days with the Rangers and working with the team's starters, we know he isn't a big fan of the whole pitch count thing, which he reiterated in a story in the New York Daily News.
With a recent surge of young pitchers being shut down and some facing Tommy John surgery, Ryan said he knows exactly what the cause is.
“It’s because pitchers simply don’t throw as much as we did,” Ryan said. “That’s the real issue here. When I pitched, we pitched every fourth day and guys would pitch 300 innings and it wasn’t considered a big deal. If you don’t get on the mound and develop stamina, you’re risking injury. This whole thing with the 100-pitch count limit — I have a real problem with that. Pitchers are all different and when you put standard limitations on them, you’re not utilizing their talent.”
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Tommy John, yes, the pitcher for whom the surgery was named, agreed with Ryan.
“I absolutely agree with Nolan that more is better,” John said in the article. “Years ago, I’d have gone along with the thinking that there’s only so many bullets in your arm. But we’ve ‘dumbed down’ our thinking today to believing that pitch counts and innings limitations are the way to go to preserve arms. Starting in 1975 with the White Sox, when Johnny Sain was my pitching coach, I would throw six days a week out of seven and it was the best my arm ever felt. For the next 13 years, I never missed a start, except once when I had the flu."