Laurila: Players’ view: Do pitchers pitch to the score?

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on August 10, 2016:

Following a 4-2 win over the Red Sox in late July, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was asked about pitch selection. His response to a small group of reporters was as follows:

“It’s different when it’s a [close] ballgame. You don’t think about pitch count as much; it’s just about getting outs. It’s a different situation with more runs. Maybe you take a shot at throwing some more-hittable pitches to get some quick outs. But not in a one-run ballgame.”

As the media scrum broke up, I asked Verlander a point-blank question: “Do you pitch to the score?” His answer was a short and simple, “Yes.”

He’s not the only one. Jack Morris has been criticized — if not mocked — for saying that he pitched to the score. Others have certainly done the same, but how many? Is the practice prevalent, or are pitchers like Morris and Verlander the exception rather than the rule?

I decided to explore the subject. Prompted by Verlander’s answer, I asked a collection of pitchers, catchers, pitching coaches and managers if big-league pitchers do indeed pitch to the score. Here are their responses.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: August 11, 2016. Last Updated: August 11, 2016.