MODESTO — Excuse me while I argue with myself, but the left side of my brain just doesnt agree with the right side about Colorados decision to limit Eddie Butlers starts to five innings for the rest of the season.
The left side, being the center of critical thinking, sees all the logic in the move, while the right side, being more emotional, would like to see Butler have a chance to be a great pitcher for Modesto on his journey to the majors.
I recorded some of this internal conversation, and here it is.
Lefty: Do the math. Butler has thrown 83 innings so far this season. If he works five innings in each of the 14 starts hes scheduled to get in the second half, hell finish the season with 153 innings, and thats enough for a 22-year-old in his first full season.
Righty: Sure, thats enough if the goal is to develop pitchers capable of eventually throwing only 190 innings in a major league season. Thats a good way to blow out a bullpen.
Lefty: But the goal also is to make sure Butlers not overworked, because a pitcher with a sore arm does nobody any good.
Righty: If the goal is to keep prospects from injuring themselves, then why let them pitch at all in the minor leagues?
Lefty: Well, because Butlers not ready for the majors, so he needs the experience hell get at each step of the minors.
Righty: I guess that doesnt include developing the ability to work through the first hint of fatigue. Isnt that a huge part of being a successful major league pitcher?
Lefty: Sure, but he has several years to build his workload to the point where hell have to execute pitches while tiring.
Righty: But isnt that a skill best developed in the low minors? As it stands, no one will know whether Butler can pitch while tired until he reaches Double-A. Thats a pretty high level to reach before hes exposed to his first possible major failure.
Centerbrain: Stop it, you guys. Youre giving me a headache.
What isnt in question is that the decision to limit Butler the rest of the season indicates that the Rockies consider him a top-notch prospect. They wouldnt be babying him if they didnt expect him to be pitching in Denver in a few years.
But as long as Butlers halted at five innings, theyre limiting his exposure to failure, slowing his progress toward being a pitcher capable of working deep into games and eliminating entirely any chance hell learn to execute pitches against professional hitters while fatigued.