Here is a list of the nine pitchers who pitched the most innings last year compared to their previous career high. I give my take on whether you should be worried about them this season.
1. Jon Lester, Red Sox, in 2008 he pitched 237 innings an increase of 83 innings over his 2007 season. Lester is a Cy Young winner in waiting but the Red Sox need to be careful not to send him the way of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. I think the Red Sox realize this and will lighten his load this season.
2. Cole Hamels, Phillies, Already sidelined with arm trouble in the preseason this lefty pitched 79 more innings in 2008 than he did in 2007 I would be extremely worried about Hamels this season.
3. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers. The buzzsaw pitched 51 more innings in 2008 than he did in 2007 and nearly 100 more innings than he did in 2006. The Dodgers staff isn’t real deep this year and I think he will be called on to pitch 180 innings this year, I would be slightly worried but not overly.
4. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. Last year the rookie pitched 171 innings, 49 more than he pitched in 2007. Only 107 of those were in the majors so he may not suffer as much of a drop off as others on this list. Like I said the Dodgers staff isn’t real deep this year and I think they need Kershaw to pitch 180+ innings this year but I think they cut him back anyway. Kershaw is a rare talent and I think team are a lot more cautious after seeing the Cubs burn out Prior and wood.
5. Tim Lincecum, Giants. The Cy Young winner in 2008 pitched 227 innings, all in the regular season last year. 50 innings more than his previous high, if his first start in any indication of his drop off this season I would be extremely worried about Tiny Tim.
6. Mike Pelfrey, Mets. Pelfrey pitched 200 regular and postseason innings last year, 48 more than his 2007 season. Some of this was due to the atrocious bullpen the Mets had last year. With legitimate 8th and 9th innings guys this year Pelfrey should see his innings drop this season.
7. Dana Eveland, A’s. Eveland pitched 189 innings last season 151 more than what he pitched in 2007 but 48 more than his career high. With the arm problems Joe Devine is having, expect Eveland to be asked to pitch later into games than usually. I would be especially worried about him this year
8. John Danks, White Sox. Danks pitched 202 innings in 2008, 46 more than in 2007. The White Sox lost Javier Vazquez to free agency and need someone to pitch 200+ innings again this season, I would be especially weary of Danks this year.
9. Jair Jurrjens, Braves. Jurrjens pitched 188 innings in 2008 45 more than in 2007. Jurrjens was the only consistency in the Braves rotation last year and his burden should be lightened this year with the off season acquisitions of starters Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Kenshi Kawakami, and Tom Glavine. Also, with Tim Hudson expected back later in the year and superstar in waiting Tommy Hanson I think the Braves really lighten Jurrjens load this year.