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Young and Vulnerable
For more than a decade, SI's Tom Verducci has tracked what he calls the Year-After Effect—a pattern of young pitchers getting hurt or regressing in performance the season after they greatly increased their workloads. The rule of thumb: A pitcher 25-and-under who sees a spike of at least 30 innings over the previous season is at risk for injury or ineffectiveness the following season. In the past six years the Year-After Effect red-flagged 55 pitchers; 46 of them (84%) were hurt or had a higher ERA in the year after.
All teams try to ramp up young pitchers' innings gradually, but the pressures of a pennant race can make it hard to stay disciplined. Here are six starters who made big contributions to playoff teams in 2011—and bear close watching in '12.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]