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Exploring Pitcher Injuries
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 4/5/2006 4:37:00 PM
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The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an interesting article today detailing the tribulations of Mariners pitching over the last decade or so, including, most disturbingly, the rash of injuries.

Based on a study by, the article suggests Mariners pitchers might be injury prone due to underuse, that they've been "babied" and thus haven't built up proper arm strength. It also asserted that U.S kids are more susceptible to injury than Latin kids because they don't throw as much growing up as Latin kids.

Chris and I explored this topic last summer on RotoWire's XM radio baseball show (channel 175, M-F 9-10 PDT). What I pointed out then is there seem to be no common demoninators amoung injured Mariner pitchers (14 in the last seven years, by my count).

Some threw a lot of minor league innings (Jeff Heaverlo), some threw a limited number (Aaron Taylor). Some were from the U.S. (Gil Meche), some were from Latin America (Rafael Soriano). Some were high school pitchers (Ken Cloude), some were college pitchers (Sam Hayes). Some were high draft picks (Ryan Anderson, 1st rnd), some were low draft picks (Scott Atchison, 49th rnd). Some were injured in the minors (Cha Seung Baek), some were injured in the majors (Bobby Madritsch). None of the usual suspects apply across the board.

So, what's going on? Bad luck? That's the Mariners explanation, but that's too easy of a copout. Bad minor league instruction? Maybe, but that's hard to know sitting here. A couple years ago, though, I was watching a Mariners game with an ex-major leaguer and he remarked that the rookie pitching for the M's had a "short stride." Now, let's give the Mariners the benefit of the doubt and say that an improper mechanic like a short stride is not likely to lead to injury. But why would you take the chance? Why not correct it?

One thing is clear, though, teams like the A's and have gone to great links to stamp out injuries before they happen, and have had good success, and other teams like the Brewers have re-thought pitcher development to stem the tide. Why aren't the Mariners doing something similar?

Lastly, the PI article also says the Mariners aren't necessarily more injury prone than any other organization. This study by USSMariner blog, which relied on, in part, RotoWire for its information, shows when it comes to prospect pitches, the Mariners lead the way in injuries. Note which team is on the bottom.


Pretty topical stuff, Thorn considering that the LeBron James of pitching prospects is now an at-risk big league Mariner. If they screw him up, heads should roll.

Posted by cliss at 4/5/2006 5:40:00 PM
While the Brewers definiteley have changed the way they develop pitchers in the last few years, I haven't really seen anything that would suggest it's working any better than before. As it stands now, four of their five starting pitchers were either traded for or picked up off of waivers, with Ben Sheets being the only one who went through their minor league system. Not a single relief pitcher currently on the team was drafted by them, and none of them spent more than a year in their minor league system. On the flip side, two of the Brewers top pitching prospects who should have been ready by this season missed all or most of last year due to injury (Mike Jones - torn labrum, Manny Parra - shoulder tendinitis). The Brewers had the fifth best ERA in the NL last year because GM Doug Melvin has done a great job and pitching coach Mike Maddux seems to have a magic touch. The Brewers went through a period just like the Mariners in the mid 90's/early 00's with Tyrone Hill, Nick Neugebau
Posted by herbilk at 4/5/2006 9:27:00 PM
-Nick Neugebauer, JM Gold, and Kyle Peterson. But the 10 years prior to that produced guys like Chris Bosio, Jamie Navarro, Bill Wegman, and Dan Plesac. I certainly hope that what they are doing works, because they've only produced one decent pitcher in the last 10 years. I'm sure that it is a good idea to study these things and try new things, but I also think that there is a good deal of luck involved as well.
Posted by herbilk at 4/5/2006 9:31:00 PM

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