Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVJune 12, 2023

AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Stanford ace Quinn Mathews was living for the moment with his team facing a must-win situation Sunday.

The left-hander threw a complete game in the Cardinal’s 8-3 victory over Texas in the NCAA super regionals. He struck out 16 batters on 156 pitches.

NCAA Baseball @NCAABaseball

Not big time… LEGENDARY!
Quinn Mathews IS Stanford!

9IP | 16Ks | 156 Pitches#RoadToOmaha x @StanfordBSB

Mathews said after the win he had no intention of walking off the mound and handing things over to the bullpen.

NCAA Baseball @NCAABaseball

“I told’em I was good to go, and they weren’t going to get the rock out of my hand”

– Quinn Mathews after throwing 156 pitches#RoadToOmaha x @StanfordBSB

Especially if Stanford advances to the College World Series, the senior will have written himself into program lore.

For neutral observers, however, his workload exemplified a persistent problem with the college game: Players and coaches are focused largely on winning and less concerned about the potential dangers of overly taxing a young, developing arm.

Joe Sheehan @joe_sheehan


College baseball coaches have no investment in their pitchers’ futures, and behave accordingly. MLB teams have considerable investment in their pitchers’ futures, and behave accordingly.

keithlaw @keithlaw

Stanford pushed Matthews to 156 pitches. Last MLB pitcher to throw that many was Tim Wakefield in 1997. Last non-knuckleballer to do it was a 33-year-old Roger Clemens in 1996.

Per, Mathews has logged more innings (120) than any other Division I pitcher this season, though he sounds content to balance the long-term risk with the short-term benefits.

It’s entirely possible Mathews moves on to the pros and doesn’t encounter any major elbow trouble.

But there are countless examples of promising hurlers who saw their prime cut short due to injuries that stemmed from being pushed to the brink in college or early into their MLB career.

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