Recently it was discovered that New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey has a torn elbow ligament and may require Tommy John surgery. Since the very first Tommy John surgery was performed in 1974, the need for Tommy John surgery seems to be becoming a popular trend for pitchers in Baseball. Studies have shown “One-third of current MLB pitchers have had Tommy John Surgery. Of the about 360 pitchers who started the season, 124 share the all-too-familiar scar” This sounds like a problem. Why is this happening? There are several possible things to question. Are pitchers throwing to much at a young age? Are they not throwing enough? Are some of these pitchers just unlucky? Is the development program flawed? Whatever the reason, MLB needs to study, and analyze these possible reasons. This article has more questions than answers.
Over the last couple decades Baseball has put an emphasis on pitch counts in an effort to protect and preserve pitchers. It logically makes sense to think this way. If you think of the body like a car, when you put more miles on it, it is more likely to break down and with the kind of money that is being invested in pitchers these days, nobody wants that. It could very well be with all these summer leagues and little league world series games, children are playing to much and putting to many miles on there arms when the body is still young and developing. As a result, they breakdown much sooner. Despite children being given a limit to how many innings they can pitch, Are they still throwing to much and learning certain types of pitches at too young of an age?
All-time greats like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson were accustomed to pitching lots of innings and throwing much higher pitch counts, but did they start throwing at such a young age as some of these kids today? Back then there was also a four man rotation and pitchers were expected to pitch deep into games. These pitchers had very long careers but they might have been the exception to the rule.
Maybe pitchers have always been getting injured this much but it was just called something else. Before Tommy John surgery one of the most common reasons for a pitcher to retire was a “dead arm” but brought on by what? The reason for a dead arm back then might have been a number of things that today has a more direct diagnosis.
In an era of technology where I can find out some of the most ridiculous baseball data and stats on google. Did you know the total distance traveled of Mark McGwire’s 70 homeruns in 1998 was 29,958 feet? I can’t find a shred of reliable data on this topic. I understand it might be difficult. Not everybody has the same body structure or weight and not every player who signs a minor league contract is guaranteed to make it to the majors. However, something is wrong and whatever the cause of the problem might be, MLB needs to reevaluate it’s conditioning program for pitchers