Unless you come from the Domingo Ayala school of Beisbol, who believes power pitching is with the arm:
“I have never seen a power pitcher with a flame on his leg!” – Domingo Ayala
Then you should have no problem understanding how important the legs are to not only pitching velocity but arm health.
Mat Latos is learning this lesson the hard way. The Mat Latos’ equation that lead to his recent forearm strain was; poor pitching mechanics + knee surgery = forearm strain.
The lower half is not just important to increasing pitching velocity but it is critical to protecting an arm like Mat Latos who is required to not only throw hard but throw a lot.
In this article, we will look at the flawed pitching mechanics of the 6-6, 244lb Mat Latos. I will also define why the lower half is so important to protecting the throwing arm and how the MLB is the worst at teaching lower half mechanics.
Well it looks like in the case of Matt Moore that you can have too much of a good thing. Matt Moore has slowly improved his pitching mechanics as he has grown in the MLB. His front leg has become more dynamic and his trunk tilt and shoulder abduction has risen which is linked to higher ball speed. The question is has this improvement in shoulder orientation for increased ball speed worked and has it moved into excessive levels this season which could be the link to his recent UCL tear?
Brooks Baseball has reported a significant shift in Matt Moore’s horiztonal release point to start the season which is representing his new shoulder orientation. A low horizontal release point for a lefty like Matt Moore means he is releasing the ball more towards first base and a high horizontal release point means he is more “over the top.” Matt’s release point has shifted upwards on the horiztonal plane higher than it has ever been in his past 3 years in the MLB. Has this release point become excessive and is this the source of his problems? Matt Moore will be the 12th pitcher to under go Tommy John surgery this year if the Rays decide to have the surgery.
In this article, I will go over what is considered excessive contralateral trunk tilt or horizontal release point and how it can increase arm speed but also damage the shoulder and elbow in the process. I will also look into the changing pitching mechanics of Matt Moore over his past three seasons and how this has improved or hurt his pitching career.
Jonathan Papelbon is experiencing a slow decline as a current closer in the MLB. It looks as though his pitching velocity is the problem. His ball speed is down in the low 90′s to start the season which hasn’t been a problem for him in the past. The reason is because he was able to get it back up again into the season but last season was the first season he ended in the low 90′s. This is what has caused everyone to consider his career to be over.
The research I have done on his current situation is not good. The main concerns I have with Jonathan Papelbon is he is 33 which is an issue when it comes to pitching performance. His age is causing his pitching mechanics to change for the worse when he didn’t have the best pitching mechanics to start with. On top of that he has a set of pitches that is only really effective for a hard thrower. His splitty is in the upper 80′s and his slider is in the upper 70s’ which has been his biggest lost in velocity (see chart). If the ball speed loss wasn’t going to be a factor for him late in his career he would need to switch the speeds of his splitty and slider to be effective.
In this article, I will go over the age factor in pitching performance. I will also go over his change in pitching mechanics and other factors that are effecting his pitching velocity. Finally, I will talk about one key bonus that Papelbon has that is the reason he has had significant inclines in ball speed in past seasons which could give him what he needs to revive his career and become a legendary pitcher.
Tommy John’s name has made more money for the famous surgical procedure than the actual Major League Pitcher Tommy John himself. Low budget teams like the A’s are spending more on Tommy John than they are spending on some of their top pitchers. In the case of Jarrod Parker, who they are paying league minimum for is probably costing them less than what they are spending on Tommy John surgery in their entire organization.
Jarrod Parker is another pitcher this season to fall victim to a second Tommy John surgery. He is also another high velocity pitcher with poor lower half mechanics who is having UCL problems. I am starting to see the pattern that a more rotational lower half in a high velocity pitcher means future UCL damage. I have discovered a strong correlation in my own research of poor hip range of motion at front foot strike to more horizontal adduction at pitch release which I believe is the main source of the problem behind UCL injury.
Jarrod Parker isn’t the only pitcher on the A’s with a UCL problem. Eric O’Flaherty and Fernando Rodriguez are both recovering from the surgery and AJ Griffin has strained the flexor muscles which helps protect the UCL. If you haven’t notice yet, every Major League team has a nice list of pitchers currently recovering from the injury. It is an obvious league wide problem.
In this article, I will go over the team costs of Tommy John surgery and how they could avoid this major experience in Major League Baseball. I will also define why a rotational lower half is so problematic for a high velocity pitcher and the UCL.
Just after writing my latest article on how Met pitchers continue to have arm problems I get the alert that another one more is down for the count. Bobby Parnell is out with a partial tear of his UCL. I then searched YouTube for some video of him pitching and look at what I found. I found Parnell in Spring Training do the conventional “Balance Drill.” Check out the video below.
If you look at Parnell’s pitching mechanics he is an obvious victim of the “Balance Drill.” When is the MLB going to learn that slowing down the lower half may help with control but it will eventually ruin the arm of their big investments.
I blame this upper-half approach to pitching for the insane amount of arm injuries that Major League Baseball is dealing with today. We can get into the specifics of the arm path and how it effects the load on the throwing arm but what it really comes down to in the end is that if you do not power your pitches predominately with your legs and core then your arm will pay the price.
In this article, I will talk about the damage the “Balance Drill” does to a high velocity pitcher and I will look into the pitching mechanics of Bobby Parnell. I will also make the point more clear that slowing down the lower half is detrimental to a MLB pitching career.
I just got home from a 3X VCamp early March and decided to turn on some spring training baseball. Kris Medlen was pitching for the Braves and I couldn’t help but cringe everytime he threw the ball. Especially on his off-speed pitches. He had two big mechanical flaws that felt like nails on a chalk board everytime I saw them. He had late hip rotation and early arm cocking. The worst mechanical combination for a pitcher in the 90′s.
It didn’t take long, he started holding his elbow and then he threw his final pitch. Not his final pitch of the inning but his final pitch of the game in the middle of the inning. He then made a beeline for the locker room. I haven’t seen that kind of an exit for a pitcher in a long time. When I tore my rotator cuff in the 4th inning of my first college appearance I stood on the mound in shock. I think the beeline was the better move. You can watch Kris Melden’s final pitch and exit here.
The major problem that exist today for Kris Medlen is that he is now having his second Tommy John Surgery which has a very poor success rate compared to the first. You can learn more about the success rate for Tommy John surgery in my article called, What Pitchers Need to Know About Tommy John Surgery. What young pitchers need to learn from Kris Medlen’s career is how to not only prevent arm injury but a second arm injury.
In this article, I will show my data on how late hip rotation correlates to more horizontal adduction and how it has been detrimental to Kris Medlen. I will also go over another underlining issue of early arm cocking and how it can combo the effects of late hip rotation at front foot strike on the pitching arm and finally how to deal with arm pain or injury for the first and second time in your career.
Another Mets Pitcher Jonathan Niese is having elbow problems and it looks like a repeat of Matt Harvey.
Here is a challenge for you, try to find a picture of Jonathon Niese, the lefty Mets pitcher, in maximum external rotation around the major league norm of 160-180 degrees like the legendary Met Billy Wagner at the left of this picture. I will save you a ton of time, don’t do this because you will never find it. Why am I pointing this out? Because Jonathan Niese had some elbow discomfort in spring training that lead to an MRI. His UCL was fine but is this a sign of problems to come, similar to Matt Harvey? Jon and Matt have something in common and it isn’t good. They both have a deficit of external rotation based on the average MLB pitcher (1). The difference between the two is Matt Harvey is a high 90′s guy and Jon Niese is a low 90′s guy. Maybe this is the reason Jon has not torn his UCL yet!
In this article, I will talk about the issues of external rotation deficits in high velocity pitchers and I will also look more into the pitching mechanics of Jon Niese and Matt Harvey and see if I can discover some red flags that could shut him down in the future.