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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It's such a basic rule of thumb.

Yet it was violated, breaking Justin Verlander, my favorite pitcher.

Justin Verlander's Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

JV's the pitcher I tell pitchers to study and emulate, if not copy.

So what happened in 2020?

Why did he get hurt?

Twice.

The problem is that, after coming off of a Cy Young season in 2019, JV was told by a pitching instructor named Ron Wolforth that he needed to change his pitching mechanics -- to become more consistent with the Conventional Wisdom about pitching mechanics -- if he was going to last.

I thought that was a TERRIBLE idea, and said as much in November 2019.

I immediately noticed those changes in March 2020.

Completely predictably, that led to arm problems.

Twice now.

And exactly as I predicted.

What Happened: Verlander

What happened to Justin Verlander?

An instructor named Ron Wolforth, who has the ear of Verlander, thought he did the same thing as Tyler Duffey.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

Wolforth told JV he needed to change before he broke.

Justin Verlander's Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

The problem is Wolforth's analysis was -- obvously -- flawed.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

As a result, Wolforth moved Verlander from an ideal pattern to a problematic one. A problematic pattern that is entirely consistent with the Conventional Wisdom about pitching mechanics.

The same Conventional Wisdom that explains why modern pitchers throw harder but can't stay healthy.

As a direct result.

Verlander vs. Duffey

Justin Verlander's arm problems start with Ron Wolforth and his concept of (Pitching) Forearm Flyout, which Wolforth illustrates using Tyler Duffey of the Twins.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

Wolforth a few years ago diagnosed Verlander with (Pitching) Forearm Flyout and prescribed the Connection Ball as the cure.

Justin Verlander Using a Connection Ball

Justin Verlander Using a
Connection Ball in 2015

The problem is that, like prescribing antibiotics to a patient who doesn't have an infection -- an anology I use in Pitching MRSA to explain the problem with the Tommy John Twist -- Wolforth's prescription didn't FIX the problem.

Because the problem didn't exist.

And, worse, but as a result, CREATED a problem.

Justin Verlander had problems with his Triceps.

Twice.

Long-Arming

Historical photos of Justin Verlander, from his time with the Detroit Tigers, show that, while JV WAS a Long-Armer, he NEVER had a problem with (Pitching) Forearm Flyout.

Justin Verlander's Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

Ron Wolforth, I guess, confused Verlander's Long-Arming -- which many people are prejudiced against for reasons most can't explain -- with (Pitching) Forearm Flyout.

As for why people don't like Long-Armers like JV, I can't find a reason, much less a good one.

Tyler Duffey's Problem

Don't get me wrong.

What Tyler Duffey does is BAD.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

But it's not (Pitching) Forearm Flyout.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

Rather, Tyler Duffey has a Timing problem as a result of a particularly bad version of what I call the Tommy John Twist.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

See how Tyler Duffey Points the Ball at Second Base? While his pitching arm is extended?

That's bad.

And creates a major Timing problem.

His arm is LATE.

Ridiculously late.

Disastrously late.

But it's not Pitching Forearm Flyout.

And it's VERY different than what Justin Verlander does.

Or did.

Justin Verlander's Mechanics

As I discuss at length in my analysis of Justin Verlander's pitching mechanics, at no time has Justin Verlander ever employed the Tommy John Twist.

Justin Verlander Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

JV has never Pointed that Ball at Second Base.

Justin Verlander Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

Instead, and as pictures show, Verlander points the ball at THIRD BASE, which is what pitchers do naturally.

Justin Verlander Pitching Mechanics

Justin Verlander

What got Justin Verlander into trouble is the elbow angle changes -- flexion rather than extension -- that Wolforth had JV make.

How Wolforth took Justin Verlander from Long-Arming to Short-Arming.

For reasons that are historically indefensible.

And that led to his elbow problems.

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