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 InsidethePark.com, 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.