Why did Justin Verlander break? First, and twice, having Triceps problems? And now needing
Tommy John surgery? JV broke because a pitching guru named Ron
Wolforth diagnosed him with a
— phony — flaw called Forearm Flyout.
Tyler Duffey Demonstrating
And broke him in the process of trying to fix him.
This piece is a deep dive into Forearm Flyout; what it is and
whether it's bad.
I discuss the relationship between Justin Verlander, Ron
Wolforth, Forearm Flyout, what happened to JV, and some related
topics in a couple of
(Pitching) Forearm Flyout is a term I first heard Dr. Mike Marshall use,
but it seem Ron Wolforth had adopted — or, more accurately, co-opted
Dr. Mike Marshall
Marshall's theory is that, in order to protect their elbows,
pitcher want to do what Clayton Kershaw is doing. In the picture
below, Kershaw is pronating his forearm into and through the release
point, so that the pitching elbow doesn't fully extend, preventing
bones from banging together.
That's why his pitching arm isn't fully extended; instead, there's still some flex in his elbow.
And which seems like a good idea.
Assuming it's possible.
Ron Wolforth also uses the term Forearm Flyout, though he uses it
to describe something different.
Basically, Wolforth uses the term Forearm Flyout to describe what
most would describe as Long-Arming (as opposed to Short-Arming).
I wasn't completely sure what Ron Wolforth was talking about
until I listened to his interview on the YBE podcast — YBE
031: Digging Deeper Into Better Pitching (Part 2) with Ron Wolforth
— and looked
at the accompanying photos.
Then, it came into focus with the April 19, 2019 article
Justin Verlander wants to be the Tom Brady of baseball.
In Verlander's case, the fix took a village. One of the key
members of Verlander Village (besides the life-saver
physical therapist and the ass-to-grass trainer) is Ron
Wolforth, a mechanics guru who has worked with Scott Kazmir
Trevor Bauer, among others. Wolforth helped Verlander
realize his core injury had caused him to start
compensating. Instead of his right arm being bent 90 degrees
and looking like the letter L prior to delivery, Verlander's
hand had started to drift down and away from his head,
creating an obtuse angle that more closely resembled a V and
sapped some giddy-up from the hurler's heater.
To fix the problem, Wolforth prescribed something called a
connection ball. A squishy, inflatable sphere that's wedged
between the biceps and forearm and can stay there only with
proper 90-degree mechanics, the tool worked wonders on his
arm posture. "It started creeping up and up and up, and I
started feeling better and better and better," says
Verlander, who still keeps a turquoise connection ball in
his locker, just in case his mechanics start to stray. "I
started throwing harder and harder and harder again, and
that was that. It was off and running."
But, here's the problem.
I remain unconvinced that Long-Arming is bad and, therefore,
remain unconvinced that Forearm Flyout is the problem that Ron
Wolforth thinks it is.
Due in part to the fact that the only — now two — times
JV hurt his
arm was when he tried to fix his problem with Forearm Flyout.
Logically, if something is — actually — a flaw, then shouldn't a
pitcher NOT get hurt when trying to move to the "superior" movement
To justify his belief, Ron Wolforth cites a study of the baseball
According to a 2009 Study
commissioned by major league
baseball and reported in The American Journal of Sports Medicine
(Aguinaldo and Chambers), if a pitcher's torso begins to rotate
toward the hitter prior to the moment when his front foot hits the
ground, or if at that point in the delivery, the angle between his
forearm and his humerus exceeds 90 degrees, there will be
significantly increased levels of torque on the ulnar collateral
ligament. (Am J Sports Med October 2009 vol 37 no10 2043-2048)
Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey seems to be Ron Wolforth's index
patient for Forearm Flyout, so let's take a look at his pitching
Why does the Connection Ball work?
When -- and if -- it does?
I'd suggestion it works because it tends to improve a pitcher's
picture above of a pitcher throwing with the Connection Ball, notice
how his pitching arm is UP?