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Updated 2020.10.26

Why can't baseball pitchers stay healthy?

For the same reason they are throwing harder.

And all because there's No Free Lunch.

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 the incorrect position.

Increasingly, pitchers' arms are FLAT and not UP, which I describe as 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.

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...

Epidemic: An Overview

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 PICNS.

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.

Predictions

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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