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Nick Friedell

Did Dusty Baker learn nothing from Mark Prior and Kerry Wood?

Big League Stew

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While watching Edinson Volquez dominate the Cubs on Wednesday (7 IP, 4 H, 10K) I couldn't help but think back to 2003. That was the last time I can remember seeing two young pitchers on the same team dominate opposing hitters in such a fashion.

Of course, those two pitchers in '03 were Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Yet as I watched Volquez's pitch count rise to 118 while the game was safely put away at 9-0, it reminded me of another correlation between the two pairs — Dusty Baker is also the manager in charge of yanking them from games.

The decision to let Volquez finish seven innings with a pitch count that was driven up by six walks reminded me of the many times in 2003 when I wondered why Baker was leaving Wood and Prior into pitch, after the game had clearly been decided. While Baker rode his horses and got his prize in 2003 (a trip to the NLCS), Wood was never the same as a starter after 2003. Meanwhile, Prior, who once looked like the face of the franchise for the next 10-15 years, is now attempting a comeback in San Diego.

Knowing what we know now about Prior and Wood, I'm thinking the following pitch counts (listed by start) should make Cincinnati fans — and fans of good, young pitching, too — a little bit nervous.

Volquez (24):

95, 75, 112, 105, 104, 100, 118

Cueto (22):

92, 69, 82, 99, 99, 55, 108

Only time will tell whether Baker has made the right call, in terms of how deep he lets each pitcher go into games. But based on his past history, I'm a little worried for those great young arms.

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