6/5/2013 7:40 P.M. ET
Hellickson, Cobb weigh in on pitch counts
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
DETROIT -- On Tuesday, Detroit Free Press writer Anthony Fenech wrote an interesting piece after visiting with Mickey Lolich and Denny McLain. Among the topics was the use of pitch counts.
Neither of the former Tigers greats is fond of the limits used by Major League managers in the name of keeping their pitchers healthy. At one point McLain posed the question, "Can you imagine [former Tigers manager] Mayo [Smith] or somebody trying to take Lolich or me out in the ninth inning?"
For his part, though, Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson understands the need for pitch counts and is not disagreeable about having one.
"We all want to have long careers in this game," Hellickson said. "We all want to throw 200 innings a year. If we throw 200 innings but we're throwing 130 pitches a start, it all adds up.
"Would I like to go more than 90 pitches and 6 1/3 [innings]? After 90 pitches, do I want to come out? No. But in today's game the bullpens are a lot better and a lot more involved. I think with the bullpen we have, we don't have any choice if we're deep in the game with a high pitch count, sixth or seventh inning. A lot of bullpen guys can come in and fill the final innings."
Wednesday's starter, Alex Cobb, smiled when asked about pitch counts before sheepishly giving his opinion.
"I hate them," Cobb said. "Obviously, [when you're] a competitor and you're out there in the seventh and eighth inning and you have 100 pitches and you're getting pulled, you're kind of a little upset about it."
Every pitcher has a different limit, according to manager Joe Maddon.
"It just depends on the guy," Maddon said. "Like David [Price]. Last year we went between 110 and 120 a lot, and the same thing with [James] Shields. I don't feel as comfortable with Hellickson doing that. And I'm still not comfortable with [Matt] Moore doing that yet. And Cobb. Those guys to me, they kind of meet their Waterloo between 105 and 110, whereas David demonstrated that he did not and Shields demonstrated that he did not.
"I think it's individual. I think we've been more lenient with guys that we felt like could handle a heavier number. Because it's not just about that [particular] game, it's about the game after that and the game after that."
Whether he likes being on a pitch count or not, Cobb knows it's the reality for Rays pitchers.
"The way I've come to deal with it is, you're their property," he said. "You're their investment. How they want to decide it and what they want to do with their investment, they decide. And they've had great results.
"I'd much rather be going 120, 130 pitches per outing. But they feel otherwise. You're not going to complain. You're going to deal with it and keep your mouth shut and do what you're told."
Maddon noted that he is under not mandate from management regarding pitch counts.
"There are certain days when you feel like give them more rope, and there are other days when it's 'Perfect, let's get them out of there,'" he said.
Torres enjoying a turnaround in 2013
DETROIT -- Alex Torres faced more than his share of trouble when he entered Tuesday night's game, an eventual 10-1 loss, in relief of Matt Moore. The bases were loaded, and Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were due up.
The 25-year-old left-hander proceeded to get Hunter to hit into a forceout at the plate for the first out, then he struck out Cabrera and Fielder.
"He came in nice and calmly, took the baseball, had a good look in his eye," manager Joe Maddon said. "There was no nervousness. Strike-throwing with all of his pitches. He was very good."
Torres added a scoreless fourth to finish his outing with no runs and three strikeouts, and he allowed no baserunners.
"I just try not to think about bases loaded right there in that situation," Torres said. "I just try to make them swing the bat and to try and get out of the inning right there. ... I'm just going to concentrate and do my job every time Joe Maddon gives me an opportunity."
Torres has appeared in four games over two tours with the Rays thus far this season and pitched 10 1/3 innings without allowing a run. In doing so he has allowed just one hit and three walks while striking out 12.
"He likes it here," Maddon said, "and I'm really impressed. Again, here's a guy who went to winter ball to be in this position. He deserves to be in this position."
Torres came to the Rays in the 2009 trade that sent Scott Kazmir to the Angels. He had a disappointing 2012 season, which saw him pitch in the Gulf Coast League as well as for Triple-A Durham, compiling a 3-8 record and 6.72 ERA in 30 appearances.
He ended up spending this past offseason playing in his native Venezuela, a journey that has paid off.
"I just [went] down there after I had a tough season in Triple-A to try and fix a couple of details in my mechanics," he said. "Like my release point, with my slider and changeup.
"Playing winter ball, I think that was the key to me throwing the ball well this year -- more consistency with my pitches. So I think that's the key."
• Matt Moore's last two starts were the shortest of his career. He pitched one inning in Friday night's rain-delayed game at Cleveland, then lasted just two innings on Tuesday night, when he allowed six runs on seven hits and six walks to the Tigers in his first loss of the season. Over the last 10 seasons, the only other pitcher to allow at least 13 men to reach base safely (via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch) while recording no more than six outs was Kansas City's Brian Bannister, on Aug. 17, 2008.
• Evan Longoria, Kelly Johnson and Matt Joyce each had 10 home runs entering Wednesday night's action, making the Rays one of four American League teams with a trio of players with double-digit home runs.
• The Rays have used eight starting pitchers this season, and they used all eight over their last 19 games. The Rays used eight starters in 2012 as well as 2011. and only seven in 2010 and 2009. The team has used 18 starting pitchers since the start of the 2008 season, four fewer than any other team during that span. The Padres have used the most, with 42.
• Manager Joe Maddon said that David Price (soreness in left triceps) will likely throw from a mound on Friday for the first time since going on the disabled list.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.