Is it a question that evokes much discussion and debate.
How much seasoning on the farm does a young pitcher need, and when is he ready to make the jump to the majors and have success there?
Are players like Chris Sale and maybe now Kevin Gausman, who pitches tonight, showing that if you have enough talent that you just don’t need all those minor league innings?
The Orioles have had high hopes for several young pitchers the last few years and let’s take a look right now at three of them in Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton.
Here are their minor league games/innings totals at Double-A and Triple-A:
Tillman: 99 games, 522 2/3 innings
Arrieta: 50 games, 279 2/3 innings
Britton: 42 games, 233 1/3 innings
With Tillman having the most success of that trio right now, is it simply a matter that he has logged many more minor league innings at higher levels than Arrieta and Britton?
Also, Tillman has gone back and forth between the Triple-A and major league levels in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. He knows that Baltimore-Norfolk shuttle well and it was getting to the point that some fans were just about giving up on him. Right about that time, he started to pitch well for the Orioles.
Does this mean that another 100 or more innings will get Arrieta and Britton pitching as well for the Orioles? The club probably wishes it were that simple.
While the math here is interesting, it is certainly not conclusive. The development of a pitcher into a major league success story is a complex blend of talent, experience, confidence, conditioning, offseason work, maturity, opportunity and so many other things.
We hear all the time that a certain pitcher is being rushed to the big leagues and some felt that way about Gausman when he got the call to start Thursday after just 64 1/3 pro innings.
But if the pitcher has the talent and the maturity level - despite his number of pro innings - as Gausman looks to have, can you bring him quickly to the majors?
These are some of the biggest decisions any organization has to make. How to handle and develop their young pitchers. When to ease up on their innings and when to push them harder. How to know when they are ready for the majors and, if they come up and get hit around, knowing how the individual player will handle all that.
What is your take on the minor league innings amounts and how it has impacted Tillman, Arrieta and Britton? And what about Gausman? Is he ready for the majors now? How will he do tonight against the Nationals?