Any theories on why so many pitchers are going down?

The Blue Jays have lost 4 starting pitchers in the couple weeks. The Yankees have lost 2. Other teams seem to be losing pitchers to things like “shoulder stiffness”. Is there any explanation for this rash of unprovoked injuries.

Here are two theories. There is something about the training that has overtaken all or at least many teams that is damaging them. My other speculation is that since teams do not own their arms long-terms, they or their agents are advising them not to “play through pain”.

Your speculations?

Well, the Yankees lost Andy Pettite when his ankle was broken, I believe when it was hit by a batted ball. They lost Joba Chamberlain from an ankle injury incurred while jumping on a trampoline. Mariano Rivera tore his ACL during pre-game warmups in the outfield;
a complete freak injury doing something he has been doing for years. None of these has any possible relationship to either training or playing through pain.

Besides freak cases, aren’t you overlooking the obvious? The absence of medications formerly used to promote faster recovery during training and between starts. Players have not yet fully adjusted to the new world order.

And, not all injuries are real. Boston, for example, gives its starters “vacations” on the DL midseason to allow muscular recovery to proceed. It’s easy to claim a player has a sore back or shoulder stiffness; there’s no way to prove it isn’t true. Not sure how they gave Buchholz intestinal bleeding, though …

While they may not be taking steroids, they seem to be getting hurt more often than they did BEFORE the steroid era.

I wonder, honestly, if the pitch count/treat them like spun glass approach isn’t backfiring. The emphasis on pitch counts and care over workload seems, at least anecdotally, to be hopelessly ineffective. If it worked, we’d expect fewer injuries and career-ending arm blowouts than we saw in the 70s and 80s, when pitchers completed a lot of games and teams still used 4-man rotations. But in fact nothing of the sort has happened; pitchers are blowing their arms up just as often as they ever did. Steven Strasburg barely got his uniform dirty before he missed a season.

Maybe pitching less is BAD for you. Maybe holding pitchers back is, in some way we do not yet understand, actually more likely to cause elbow or shoulder injuries.

I also wonder if it something to do with reduced length outings. If you knew you were going to be doing the whole game, you either learned good mechanics or blew your arm out by AA. But with so many guys getting to the Majors with 5-6 inning outings, maybe they don’t have the acute effects of throwing bad(ie. rubber arm that gets lit up in the 8th), and it builds into a long term chronic issues because it is good enough for the time the are out, and it isn’t noticed.

The simple fact is that the talent in ALL areas of the game is way higher than it was in the 70s and 80s. Batters hit the ball further, higher and run faster than ever before. Also ballparks are the smallest they’ve ever been (which a few exceptions). Back in the day it wasn’t uncommon to have a 500 foot outfield fence.

With more talented batters and overall stronger players, the smallest pitching mistakes end up giving up runs. Whereas before they were often long flyballs. Now it seems that because of the PED crackdown, batters are starting to come back down in power and the pitching really isn’t going anywhere because it is more important to have skill than sheer throwing strength when pitching.

Now none of that answers the question entirely… back in the day Jim Palmer (or whoever) used to play every fourth day and half the time complete the game… why doesn’t this happen now? It’s a combination of better batters, more effective relievers, pitch counts, surgery to extend careers, etc. And to answer the original question… it’s July, it’s the dog days… heat and the exertion of a long season catch up with a lot of starters about now.

I will mention one other factor, not unrelated to some of the above. When I was a teen (that takes us back 60 years!) the announcers always talked about the pitchers “pacing themselves”. This meant not working so hard unless there was a crisis. A soft hitter (maybe a pitcher), the light hitting shortstop, etc, you didn’t work so hard. That’s how you got a complete game. I can’t remember the last time I heard that phrase. The hitters are bigger and stronger and maybe the whole concept of pacing has flown the coop. They are working their asses off all the time.

Don’t be so sure the fields are smaller. Yankee stadium had a notoriously short right field. The polo grounds had home plate in the vertex of a horseshoe and the foul line distances were scandalously short (although after that, it got to be gargantuan). The “Pesky pole” in Fenway and the left field were also very short. At Shibe Park (in Philly, where I grew up and home of the A’s and Phillies) the foul line distances were both around 330 feet, not scandalous, but not long either. And Wrigley is still very small. I don’t know any modern park that uses such short foul lines (except, I guess, the new Yankee Stadium).

I don’t know how they compare to the old parks built prior to the 60s, but stadiums built in the 90s and 00s have far less foul territory than those built in the multi-purpose stadium era. This seems to be to get the fans closer to the game (which allows for higher ticket prices). There are a number of stadiums where fans behind home plate are closer to the catcher than the pitcher is. That cuts down a significant number of would-be outs from foul balls and forces the pitchers to work just a bit harder.

Actually, Wrigley Field has the longest foul lines of any current major league park; 355 feet to LF and 353 feet to RF.

Interleague play :-/

All of the factors stated so far. In general, pitchers are no longer born, they are made. They’ve been trained to throw specfic pitches under specific circumstances, and are trying to do that with each pitch. They start the regimented pitching younger, and never get a chance to develop a natural style that will carry them over time. Also, just MHO, they aren’t that smart, and try to work their way out of bad spots physically instead of using their brains.

This sort of hints that there were a number of 500-foot outfield fences in the 70s and 80s, which of course there were not. I don’t believe baseball has had a 500-foot outfield fence since the Polo Grounds moved theirs in to 483 feet in 1923.

I read a fact today that makes me cry but is relevant here; the Blue Jays just called up Drew Carpenter. Once he appears in a game he will be the 24th pitcher the Blue Jays have used this year.

My jaw dropped a little when I read that post, RickJay. That’s just nuts.

They’re up to 25.