> BUY > Pitching > Chris O'Leary on the Epidemic

Kerry WoodWhy can't baseball pitchers stay healthy?

For the same reason they are throwing harder.

And, ultimately, because there's No Free Lunch.

The failure to understand that reality is leading to problems that are ENTIRELY predictable.

And, because those problems are PREDICTABLE, that also means they are PREVENTABLE.

Chris O'Leary's Epidemic Overview

Why do I say the Epidemic is a REVERSIBLE phenomenon? Because the problems are so predictable. Because they are being TAUGHT.

Chris O'Leary's Epidemic Explainer One-Pager

Chris O'Leary's
Epidemic Explainer

The morning Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals broke, most recently, I put together the one-pager above, using a picture of Flaherty to explain what's happening to baseball pitchers.


The key elements of my theory of why baseball pitchers are having an increasingly difficult time staying healthy, and what to do about it, include...


In the interests of brevity, I've put together this one-page explainer.

Chris O'Leary's Epidemic Explainer One-Pager

Chris O'Leary's
Epidemic Explainer

This illustrates and discusses the key problem that is driving the Tommy John surgery epidemic in baseball pitchers.


I have argued, since 2007, that baseball pitchers can't stay healthy because the tricks and shortcuts that have been, and increasingly are being, used to boost their velocity work by overloading the pitching arm.

Specifically, they put the pitching arm in a problematic position.

Increasingly, pitchers' arms are FLAT and not UP, which I describe as a having a Late Arm or, visually speaking, Flat Arm Syndrome...

Stephen Straburg Pitching Mechanics

Stephen Strasburg

...when the pitcher's shoulders start to turn and the pitching arm comes under load.

That creates what I call a Timing problem.

Root Cause(s)

Baseball pitchers are throwing harder than ever before.

And are struggling to stay healthy.

Those two facts are related.

Over the past 15 years, I have observed that, in an effort to — quickly — boost fastball velocities, baseball velocity trainers and pitching coaches have adopted and popularized a number of tricks, shortcuts, and mechanical patterns for training and creating velocity. Those new ideas, starting with the Inverted W and/or the Elbow Spiral and a movement I call the Tommy John Twist, generally do help to boost the velocity of pitchers who employ them.

But there's No Free Lunch.

Timing as Demonstrated by Justin Verlander and Alex ReyesThe problem is those new ideas work by overloading the pitching arm; by creating what I call a Timing problem, whereby the pitching arm is in the wrong position — it's FLAT and not UP — when the shoulders start rotating and the pitching arm comes under load. That overload can be visualized by looking for a pattern I call Flat Arm Syndrome.

All of this is especially troubling given the rising incidence of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, blood clots, and related problems in baseball pitchers, a meta-syndrome I call TICaNS.

While many are fatalistic about the present situation, believing there's no alternative to rising pitching injury rates, I'd suggest that the examples of Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, Aroldis Chapman, and a small number of other pitchers who were both Dominant & Durable, points to another way.


The test of any theory is its ability to predict the future.

I'd suggest my numerous — tweeted and thus time-stamped and non-editable — predictions help to establish that I know what I'm talking about.

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