Francisco Liriano—-Warning signs?
In light of recent developments, Bullpen Mechanics checks out Francisco Liriano
Here is a clip of Liriano that starts a few frames before getting to the top of the knee lift.
In a word, excellent. Knee stats descending into footplant on frame 4. He’ll release on 26. He uses momentum well, as he picks up speed with an aggressive move towards the plate. Again, excellent. Controlled fury…..
Again, excellent. Quick, aggressive, short. Yes, yes, and yes. He starts “picking up” the ball at frame 15 and releases at 26. 11 frames from picking up the ball to release is friggin quick.Frame 20
—Look at that position. You will see a still shot of this position later. WOW!! Look at the level of horizontal loading of the arm. In other words, he reaches back well. Not towards 2nd base, but towards 3rd base. Also note the elbow above the arm. Love it. It might actually be a little too high. I could be nitpicking, never mind.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one—-yeah, excellent. If you were to draw a straight vertical line through the outside of his butt, you would see that his butt moves to the right throughout his motion. What’s happening here? He’s “sitting down.” He’s engaging the hips, using his body as a unit to control his mass more efficiently.
Also, the more and more I look at it, the more and more I’m pleased with how seemingly quiet his front side is.
—He doesn’t have the separation between upper and lower body as a lot of power guys. His hips lead, but it seems like he rotates upper and lower body as a unit more than a lot of power pitchers. Also note how ridiculously quick frames 22 through 26 are.
Powerful. At full speed it seems like he flails away. On video, he is very much under control. At release, which I’ll show with a side shot, his glove arm is firm and out front. This helps reduce shoulder injury risk. Frames 26-28 show the little extra oomph he has. Notice how his left shoulder seems to bow forward after release. Some pitchers do it better than this (Billy Wagner, for example), however, this is a good example of an aggressive finish.
I cut it out, however, after release, his left leg does the violent swing that Pedro was known for. It is indicative of aggressive, rotational fury.
SO WHAT’S UP WITH HIS ELBOW?
Sorry to say this, but I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone knows at this point how/if his mechanics contribute to elbow problems. He is certainly an “elbowy” thrower of the baseball. He has a short-armish motion which some believe lead to elbow issues. That said, his excellent arm action is a major factor in how well his arm does what it needs to do. He certainly loves to throw his slider. Some say the slider puts more stress on the arm if done incorrectly. Some say it doesn’t matter. I can be convinced either way, although I’m more inclined to believe that sliders do hurt the arm.
What do I think happened?
I have this theory. I believe that pitchers who pick up velocity in a short time span are more prone to elbow injury. Those ligaments probably aren’t ready (haven’t been trained enough) to throw the ball that hard and that often without repercussions. I honestly don’t know how long Liriano has been throwing at 93-97 mph, however, it seems like it is a contributing factor. The slider factor can’t help either.
Also, Liriano is young. It’s a young arm we’re talking about here.
So, what to do from here?
Leave the kid alone.Note to the Twins:
Forget this ever happened. Change nothing. Don’t slow him down. Don’t have his arm action get longer. This is a fluke injury. His arm is getting used to the new stresses he is putting on it. If anything, work on making the ligaments stronger. Train the elbow to handle those new loads and more.
SOME STILL SHOTS OF LIRIANO AT DIFFERENT POINTS IN HIS MOTION
Posted: September 20, 2006 at 02:50 AM | 52 comment(s)