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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Harvey’s Injury Shows Pitchers Have a Speed Limit - NYTimes.com

Sure way to cut down on pitcher injuries? Limit them to 75 MPH.

“When you ask about performance and velocity, I end up talking about medicine and injury,” he said. “You can’t strengthen tendons and ligaments per se, certainly not as much as muscles. The muscles overwhelm them.”

And then comes that snap.

“Velocity itself is a risk factor for injury,” he said.

Yes, I am kidding.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 17, 2013 at 08:56 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: injuries, matt harvey, pitching mechanics

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   1. Bob Tufts Posted: September 17, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4543401)
100 mph 100 times per game for 30 starts per season.....laying that arm flat and flipping it forward with maximum effort....

The human body is not built to do that on a regular basis and it will break down.
   2. gehrig97 Posted: September 17, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4543418)
Amazing factoid from the article:

In fact, Chapman has thrown 17 of the 20 fastest pitches recorded by Pitch F/X since 2008, according to Goldbeck. Four of those heaters came during Gwynn’s seven-pitch at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. Two others were thrown by Chapman that same night against other Padres.


Seventeen out of 20! Unreal.
   3. Ron J2 Posted: September 17, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4543499)
#1 And yet pure power pitchers (think Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson) are often among the most durable. But then Roger Pavlick for instance broke very early.

I don't think there are any good general rules for pitcher. Beyond of course, expect an injury.
   4. spycake Posted: September 17, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4543560)
In fact, Chapman has thrown 17 of the 20 fastest pitches recorded by Pitch F/X since 2008, according to Goldbeck. Four of those heaters came during Gwynn’s seven-pitch at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. Two others were thrown by Chapman that same night against other Padres.


Not that I doubt Chapman's velocity, but might this suggest the velocity data for that particular game might be skewed slightly?

Also, why the heck would Chapman throw FOUR 100+ MPH heaters to Tony Gwynn Jr?
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4543588)
I don't think there are any good general rules for pitcher. Beyond of course, expect an injury.


Ironically -- since I heavily criticized the decision and still do -- I think shutting young pitchers like Strasburg down early is fine. Especially if they've already been injured. I mean, we KNOW that pitchers get hurt pitching, so in my view pitching fewer innings can't hurt. I don't want to re-litigate the Strasburg decision here, but the problem was (a) doing it with a playoff team, and (b) nobody has any clue what the magic numbers are (e.g., 160 IP), or even if there are any magic numbers at all. And it seems that there aren't. So if you have a team that's out of it, fine, shut him down. It can't hurt. But if your team is in it, the tradeoff makes no sense.
   6. Oscar Geronimo Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:13 PM (#4543602)
Chapman footage from that Padres game is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjgvu4wWCxM

Doesn't look particularly fast to me, but then again - Chapman is deceptive.

PS - TFA was kinda cool. I liked the coda with Mike Marshall of "Ball Four" fame, still pushing his own theories.
   7. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4543604)
Just this morning I was thinking, "What if you changed the rules so that every major-league pitch above X miles-per-hour was automatically called a ball?"

Then I thought, "Why can't I have money for nothing, and chicks for free?"
   8. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4543609)
Then I thought, "Why can't I have money for nothing, and chicks for free?"


It's especially unfair because I've been banging on those bongos like it's my best.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4543612)
Also, why the heck would Chapman throw FOUR 100+ MPH heaters to Tony Gwynn Jr?

He wanted to say he struck out the legendary Tony Gwynn and wasn't told the truth until after the game?
   10. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4543631)
#1 And yet pure power pitchers (think Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson) are often among the most durable. But then Roger Pavlick for instance broke very early.


Well, young Nolan Ryan had his shared of arm troubles. Same for Clemens, for that matter. Johnson is a the real freak there.
   11. dlf Posted: September 17, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4543634)
Then I thought, "Why can't I have money for nothing, and chicks for free?"


Because you don't have a blister on your little finger and maybe on your thumb.

It's especially unfair because I've been banging on those bongos like it's my best.


More proof that Ole Miss folks are chimpanzees.
   12. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4543643)
You're lucky I left my dueling glove at home, suh.
   13. The Good Face Posted: September 17, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4543644)
#1 And yet pure power pitchers (think Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson) are often among the most durable. But then Roger Pavlick for instance broke very early.


Pavlik's delivery was wince-inducing for your average fan watching the game. It just LOOKED awkward and painful, a sort of cross-body slingshotting motion, and nobody was surprised when he broke early in his career. In the "amusing" category, Pavlik's 5.19 ERA in 1996 came out to a 101 ERA+. Sillyball era, best era.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: September 17, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4543647)
When I throw a ball as hard as possible, my fingers get tingly and numb. Does that happen to pitchers all the time?
   15. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: September 17, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4543654)
When I throw a ball as hard as possible, the radar gun in the concourse game says something like "58". Of course, there's no mound and that's a factor, but still ... what these guys do (with control to varying degrees) is amazing.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4543660)
When I throw a ball as hard as possible, the radar gun in the concourse game says something like "58". Of course, there's no mound and that's a factor, but still ... what these guys do (with control to varying degrees) is amazing.


I've gotten up to 65 so nyah nyah.
   17. BDC Posted: September 17, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4543712)
58, 65, impressive. I think in my 20s I could have thrown a ball about 30 mph and gotten it within ten feet either side of the plate in 2 or 3 bounces.

On the bright side, I have all my original elbow ligaments :)
   18. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4543745)
Don't know if they've fixed it but as of ~10 years ago those carnival guns read comically low--I personally saw a minor league pitcher who the scouts' guns had in the high 80s measure in the mid-high 70s on one, and many high school pitchers who must have pitched at least in the high 70s/low 80s struggle to crack 70 on them.
   19. billyshears Posted: September 17, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4543816)
Apparently Harvey is going to try rehab.

Hard to have an opinion without being a doctor and seeing his scans, but I assume if Andrews told him he absolutely needed surgery, he would have opted for surgery (and I imagine Boras would have told him to do it if it was the best thing long term as well).
   20. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4543835)
Can't speak for Matt Harvey, but when I was 24 I would do whatever the hell I pleased and rationalize as much as necessary until convinced I knew what was best for myself and everyone around me warning me I was about to do something stupid could get bent.
   21. AROM Posted: September 17, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4543837)
Don't know if they've fixed it but as of ~10 years ago those carnival guns read comically low--I personally saw a minor league pitcher who the scouts' guns had in the high 80s measure in the mid-high 70s on one, and many high school pitchers who must have pitched at least in the high 70s/low 80s struggle to crack 70 on them.


I want to believe that. My best reading on one of those guns was 71, when I was in my late 20's. 2 months ago I did the one in Cooperstown near Doubleday field, I only hit 61 on that. It actually tied the day's best reading for men aged 26-39. Unfortunately, I am not in that age group, and some other 40+ geezer had hit 70.

When I throw my hardest the ball seems to get to home in a straight line, not blooper pitches. Yet the radar gun readings I get are about the same as when MLBers issue intentional walks.

On the other hand, distance throwing can be a proxy for velocity. You can throw far without the ball coming out of your hand fast. I was practicing teeball skills with my daughter last weekend, and at one point tried to see how far I could throw a ball. Pathetic, throw from home plate into short center field, probably in the 150 foot range. I hadn't warmed up but people with real arms can long toss from 300. I don't think there's any chance I could do that.
   22. AROM Posted: September 17, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4543840)
When I throw a ball as hard as possible, my fingers get tingly and numb. Does that happen to pitchers all the time?


Happens to me. Up to about age 16 I could throw as hard as I wanted, all day long. After that, pain if I overdo it.
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4543847)
At my youthful peak I could touch the mid-80s (personal best: 86) but since I was about 25 I've been unable to throw my hardest without igniting significant pain in my elbow. I never played competitively after Little League but would spend an hour or two just about every day all spring and summer throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall out back over and over.
   24. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 17, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4543921)
At my youthful peak I could touch the mid-80s (personal best: 86) but since I was about 25 I've been unable to throw my hardest without igniting significant pain in my elbow.

Yeah, I could pitch in the 80s too, but my arm hurt all the time. Never blew anything out though, so that's something. Agree with the sentiment that if I ever let one rip these days, it feels as though my elbow will explode. Just shooting jump shots for a significant amount of time makes my elbow hurt the next day. The lesson, as always: Don't get old.
   25. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4543937)
58, 65, impressive. I think in my 20s I could have thrown a ball about 30 mph and gotten it within ten feet either side of the plate in 2 or 3 bounces.


I damned near blow up my arm and shoulder every time I try. But I still dial it up as much as I can. So far nothing's gone haywire yet.

And yeah, I get the tingling.
   26. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 08:08 PM (#4543979)
It's weird, I can sling the #### out of a softball 2 or 3 games a day and never feel anything, but (as I found out when I decided to try a hardball league a few years back) if I throw a baseball for a few innings ... I'm gobbling Advil like they're candy.
   27. Leroy Kincaid Posted: September 17, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4543985)
I hadn't warmed up but people with real arms can long toss from 300. I don't think there's any chance I could do that.

Was on a regulation-sized diamond once and stood at third base in awe of how those guys could make that throw to first on a line. Hell, at all.
   28. smileyy Posted: September 17, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4543990)

Can't speak for Matt Harvey, but when I was 24 I would do whatever the hell I pleased and rationalize as much as necessary until convinced I knew what was best for myself and everyone around me warning me I was about to do something stupid could get bent.


It makes sense that a player should have the final decision about what's done with their own body, but man, that leads to some really dumb final decisions.
   29. Bob Tufts Posted: September 17, 2013 at 08:53 PM (#4544001)
When I throw a ball as hard as possible, my fingers get tingly and numb.....When I throw a ball as hard as possible, the radar gun in the concourse game says something like "58".....I've gotten up to 65....My best reading on one of those guns was 71,....At my youthful peak I could touch the mid-80s... I could pitch in the 80s too, but my arm hurt all the time....


And this is why G-d invented day jobs.
   30. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 17, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4544105)
Rub it in why don't you!
   31. gehrig97 Posted: September 17, 2013 at 11:40 PM (#4544138)
When I was a kid, I used to go to a local batting cage where they had a "very fast" cage set at 82-85 (at least that's what they claimed). In my late teens/early 20s, with regular time in the cage, timing it became a breeze and I was able to put on what I thought were pretty impressive batting practice displays (for context: High School saw me reach the limits of my abilities on a baseball diamond).

For fun, a friend and I visited a local baseball academy with pro-quality pitching machines (don't remember the brand). Of course, we wanted to try our luck with the mid-90s heat. After about 10 consecutive whiffs (and these were straight fastballs, from pitch-to-pitch probably not deviating more than an inch or two in any direction as they blurred passed me), I was finally able to make contact. I regretted it immediately as the shock practically knocked the (aluminum) bat out of my hands. The speed was flat-out scary. I was so hopelessly over-matched that I didn't even feel silly; this was clearly too much for me and I had no business being there.

We dialed it down to 84-85 (which was still quite a bit faster than the alleged "85" at my local batting cage). The difference between 84 and 94 was astounding. I have no idea how a man can throw a baseball 100 mph, and I have even less of a clue as to how another man could hit a ball traveling 100 mph (with movement, under the lights, having to guess at it's general location within a lsightly amorphous "zone").
   32. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: September 18, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4544148)
As far as I can tell, I can throw as hard as I want all day with no real problems. Unless you count "the ball goes an embarrassingly short distance" as a problem. I'm still throwing faster than the dog can run, but that's about it.
   33. Ron J Posted: September 18, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4544150)
#31 I wasn't silly enough to try and hit a pro fastball, but I did have the chance to try myself against a machine set to low 80s breaking ball. My experience there nicely matched what you described. Out of my league and when I made weak contact it hurt like hell.
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 18, 2013 at 09:26 AM (#4544291)
BP was noting Harvey's injury risk before he hit the majors. Here is BP writing about Matt Harvey in their Top 100 Prospects list (Kevin Goldstein in particular) before the 2012 season:

25. Matt Harvey, RHP, Mets.

Harvey was a bit of a risk as a first round pick who didn't shine until his final year of college, when he was great, but also abused, including one complete game in which he threw 157 pitches. He showed no ill effects in his full-season debut, maintaining his mid-90s fastball throughout the season and reaching Double-A.


Here is the player comment on him, same year:

Harvey was the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, but there certainly were some risks involved, as he did not live up to expectations in college until his junior year, and North Carolina worked him at a disturbing level. None of those factors came into play in his full-season debut. He stayed healthy, dominated the Florida State League, and was making adjustments at Double-A when the season came to an end...




   35. McCoy Posted: September 18, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4544299)
For me if I threw a baseball hard my elbow would tingle and throb for a day. That started in high school and continued a long while. Didn't notice in this year's softball game but then again I didn't need to make any real kind of throws.

When I was a kid I would throw everything as hard as I could, a baseball, a football, a softball, hell, even a cinder block. It didn't matter. I was going to wind it up an see how far or how hard I could throw it.
   36. gehrig97 Posted: September 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4544359)
I think it was Lefty Gomez (or Grove?) who said "I'm throwing twice as hard but the ball is getting there half as fast." That about sums it up for me these days.
   37. Squash Posted: September 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4544381)
Don't know if they've fixed it but as of ~10 years ago those carnival guns read comically low--I personally saw a minor league pitcher who the scouts' guns had in the high 80s measure in the mid-high 70s on one, and many high school pitchers who must have pitched at least in the high 70s/low 80s struggle to crack 70 on them.

You also aren't warmed up, aren't wearing the right shoes (makes a difference if you're slipping around), aren't off a mound, the gun may be measuring at the very end of the pitch rather than further out as some guns do, etc. Those carnival guns also generally aren't using actual baseballs - size, weight, surface, can all make a difference.

It's weird, I can sling the #### out of a softball 2 or 3 games a day and never feel anything, but (as I found out when I decided to try a hardball league a few years back) if I throw a baseball for a few innings ... I'm gobbling Advil like they're candy.)

I would guess it's the size and resistance of the ball. For example, try throwing a softball as hard as you can, then throw a golf ball as hard as you can. With the golf ball it feels like your elbow's about to come flying out of its socket.
   38. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: September 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4544432)
I never had much of a fastball - could get it up near 60 if I was really feeling good - and then my shoulder went kablooey at one of those stadium concourse speed guns. I heard and felt a pop that day and now I'm lucky if I can hit 50 MPH.

Doctor thinks I have a partial rotator cuff tear, but nobody's ever done an MRI because surgery is unnecessary and probably overkill - the arm's functional and I don't need a fastball to be a video equipment technician.

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