Pitching Mechanics Analysis
Johan Santana has been one of the most effective pitchers of
the last few years. However, I question whether Johan will be
able to maintain that level of success or whether he will be as
big of a disappointment for the Mets as
Barry Zito has been for the Giants. Let me explain why I say
Johan Santana And The Mets
The video clip below is from a week ago when the Mets played
the Cardinals. In this case, Johan Santana threw Albert Pujols a
tailing fastball that Pujols hit off the end of his bat for a
ground out to SS.
Johan Santana - Mets
The thing that concerns me about Johan Santana is that I see
a bit of a timing problem in his mechanics. The thing to notice
is the position of Johan Santana's Pitching Arm Side (PAS)
forearm in Frame 74, when his shoulders start rotating. Rather
than being vertical, it is horizontal. This can increase the
load on both the elbow and the shoulder. It isn't until Frame 78
that Johan Santana's PAS forearm is vertical. A second thing to
notice is how high Johan Santana's PAS elbow gets relative to
the level of his shoulders.
Johan Santana And The Twins
If you look at video of Johan Santana from his time with the
Twins, you can see the same basic problem.
Johan Santana - Twins
Notice how in Frame 17, as Johan Santana's shoulders start to
rotate, his PAS forearm is horizontal rather than vertical.
A Troubling Similarity
The thing that bothers me about Johan Santana's pitching
mechanics is that they bear a significant resemblance to the
pitching mechanics of Francisco Liriano.
Notice how high Francisco Liriano's PAS elbow gets in Frame
19 in the clip above.
A Key Variable?
One thing that may help to explain Johan Santana's relative
health is the angle of his PAS elbow.
Notice how Johan Santana's PAS elbow is bent more than 90
degrees as his PAS forearm passes through the high-cocked
position. Theoretically, this can reduce the load on both the
elbow and the shoulder. I also think the fact that Johan Santana
is more of a fastball/change-up pitcher, while Francisco Liriano
is more of a fastball/slider pitcher, may help to explain their
The Bottom Line
There is no question that Johan Santana has been very
successful to date. However, due to his borderline mechanics I
question whether Johan Santana will be able to continue that
level of success. I think Johan Santana could easily give the
Mets the same heartache that Pedro Martinez and El Duque have.