Tracy relaxing pitch-count limit

Tracy relaxing pitch-count limit

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Jim Tracy said on Tuesday that he is relaxing the 75-pitch limit for the pitchers in his four-starter system.

Going into Tuesday night's game with the Cardinals, three pitchers -- Jeff Francis, who started on Tuesday, Christian Friedrich and Drew Pomeranz -- were coming off strong outings, but none went beyond six innings because of the pitch count.

If a starter leaves a game too early for Tracy to get to a back end of the bullpen that has been generally strong, important innings could wind up in the hands of pitchers who are in the bullpen because they either struggled as starters or were deemed not ready to start. If a starter is going well, Tracy wants to have the flexibility to let him go until it makes sense to use such late-game relievers as Matt Belisle and Rex Brothers.

Tracy has relaxed the pitch count somewhat in a few of the starts, and the pitchers have adjusted by shortening their bullpen sessions before the next outing. Tracy believes the pitchers can handle a higher pitch count.

"When the information comes back to me in my office that says [a pitcher] feels great, he's doing fine, that's what you're encouraged by," Tracy said. "You think as we go along here, the volume can increase.

"As we go along and they're commanding the strike zone the way we've seen it done in a few of the games, hopefully they can go out there and take an extra 10 pitches, to 85 or whatever it might be. You've got to get in the strike zone and keep the ebb and flow of the game going the way it's supposed to go."