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We should first establish what I mean by "innings limit" because the term, while widely accepted, has become overbroad.

The hard stop, wherein a team hits the brakes on a pitcher's season and puts him on ice until next year, has largely fallen out of favor across the league. It still happens sometimes, usually for teams well out of the playoff picture, but of course, the playoff picture is bigger than ever now. And so teams have come up with more creative ways to curtail their youngsters' innings that are less painful for everyone involved (us included).

We're already seeing it play out for the Marlins and Eury Perez. Even though the 20-year-old was sporting a 2.36 ERA, they've sent him down to the minors for an undetermined number of weeks, stalling his accumulation of innings so they can bring him back for the stretch run and, hopefully, the playoffs. 

Generally, a team will permit an increase of 40-50 innings from one season to the next. Any more than that is thought to compromise the pitcher's long-term health, but it's an inexact science and, thus, more of a guideline than a rule.

Presuming a five-man rotation, most pitchers have 14 turns left. At five innings a start, that's 70 innings still to be added to their season total. Using that criteria, I've identified 15 pitchers who might come into conflict with that 40-to-50-inning increase. It doesn't mean they'll be shut down, of course. Maybe they're skipped for a turn or two. Maybe their starts become shorter. The bottom line, though, is they're at risk of disruption to their usual workload. And as they enter uncharted territory for that workload, their performance may suffer as well.

For each of these 15, I offer my concern level as well as a description for how things could possibly play out. It's up to you to make a judgment call from there.

Note: Innings counts include minor-league and postseason totals. This year's are up to date through Monday, July 17.

Pitchers at risk
ATL Atlanta • #99 • Age: 25
Risk level
Low
This year
110.2
Last year
134
Career high
134
There's almost certainly no official limit for the Braves ace, but since the team seems destined to cruise into the playoffs, they may ease up a little to ensure he's still bringing the heat when it matters most.
MIA Miami • #44 • Age: 26
Risk level
Medium
This year
113.1
Last year
112
Career high
Surpassed
Luzardo's checkered injury history has him further behind the eight ball than you might expect for someone with his experience. It's all the more incentive for the Marlins to exercise caution even as they fight for a playoff spot.
BAL Baltimore • #68 • Age: 29
Risk level
Medium
This year
104.2
Last year
106
Career high
119.1
Wells' efficiency could work in his favor or to his detriment depending what metric the Orioles use to evaluate his workload, and evaluate it they will given their realistic hopes of a deep playoff run.
MIN Minnesota • #17 • Age: 28
Risk level
High
This year
100.1
Last year
72.2
Career high
Surpassed
The situation appears grim, but Ober's pitch count is unusually low for all the innings he's thrown. He's also so underdeveloped workload-wise that the Twins almost have to push the envelope just to avoid carrying the issue into future seasons.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #35 • Age: 28
Risk level
Medium
This year
97.1
Last year
119
Career high
119
Steele has a little bit of cushion, but he's a critical long-term asset for a team that's currently playing for third place. The Cubs may not want to push him past 150 innings or so.
HOU Houston • #58 • Age: 25
Risk level
Low
This year
94
Last year
130
Career high
130
As the World Series champions position themselves for a repeat, they may pull back on their hard-throwing rookie to keep some innings in reserve. Still, any change in workload figures to be a subtle one.
MIA Miami • #39 • Age: 20
Risk level
High
This year
84.1
Last year
77
Career high
Surpassed
The Marlins are already taking measures to curtail Perez's innings, having him twiddle his thumbs at Triple-A for the time being. While that approach is preferable to a hard shutdown in August, further measures may still be required to protect the 20-year-old.
CIN Cincinnati • #41 • Age: 24
Risk level
Medium
This year
101.2
Last year
118
Career high
118
The surging rookie has slightly more cushion than most, but things could get tricky if the Reds have to fight tooth and nail to capture the NL Central. It's probably to the benefit of his 2023 value, though.
CLE Cleveland • #32 • Age: 24
Risk level
Low
This year
90
Last year
115
Career high
115
The Guardians have done a good job managing Williams' innings already, and while a playoff push could put him in a tight spot, it seems just as likely the Guardians have a quiet September that lets him ease into 150 innings.
SEA Seattle • #22 • Age: 24
Risk level
High
This year
78.2
Last year
57
Career high
Surpassed
The Mariners are having to ride Woo harder than they'd probably like as they fight to stay in the playoff race, and a hard shutdown seems as likely for him as anyone else if and when they drop out of it.
BAL Baltimore • #64 • Age: 28
Risk level
Low
This year
104
Last year
134.1
Career high
134.1
Kremer is in a pretty good spot innings-wise, but he accumulates them faster than most on this list, with many of his recent starts going six-plus. He derives much of his value from that workhorse quality, so any amount of easing would be a problem.
BAL Baltimore • #30 • Age: 24
Risk level
High
This year
91.2
Last year
75.2
Career high
103
The Orioles have to thread the needle of needing to assess Rodriguez for a playoff run without undercutting his considerable long-term value. No matter which way it goes, I don't see them pushing him much beyond 130 innings.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #80 • Age: 24
Concern level
High
This year
79
Last year
68
Career high
Surpassed
The downside to Sheehan's meteoric rise is that he's underdeveloped workload-wise, and it's hard to envision him contributing in the playoffs unless he shifts to the bullpen well before then.
OAK Oakland • #38 • Age: 28
Concern level
Medium
This year
106
Last year
117.2
Career high
117.2
As solid as Sears has been, he's not a long-term building block at age 27. Between that and his relative soft-tossing ways, the Athletics probably won't hit the brakes too hard, perhaps letting him exceed his previous high by more than 50.
WAS Washington • #1 • Age: 25
Concern level
High
This year
96
Last year
87
Career high
101
The Nationals don't need to keep anything in reserve for the playoffs, but they also won't be so inclined to push Gore, whose innings tend to be high-stress and who already has something of an injury history.