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Articles Tagged Pitching Motion 

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July 13, 2012 5:00 am

Raising Aces: Back to The Futures Game, US Team

9

Doug Thorburn

Evaluating the mechanics of the US pitchers in last Sunday's Futures Game.

The pitching staff for the U.S. team was stacked for last Sunday's Futures Game, setting up a showcase of former first-round draft picks to satiate the All-Star appetite. The pitching rotations were pre-set on both sides, with starters Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura representing the hometown Royals in a first-frame showdown. Three of the top four picks of the pitcher-heavy 2011 draft were on the U.S. roster, with Trevor Bauer's recent big-league promotion the only thing preventing a clean sweep of the historical top four, and the crew was joined by the top arm of the 2010 draft, Jameson Taillon. The aces-in-training put on a spectacular show, and I was extremely impressed by the mechanical profiles that Team America had on display.

Jake Odorizzi (Royals-AAA)
Odorizzi had a somewhat boring delivery, which is higher praise than it sounds, as the absence of a weak link offset any lack of an elite mechanical tool. Slow early momentum set up a late burst as he shifted gears near foot strike, and the right-hander showcased strong balance as he entered the rotational phases of the delivery. His posture was inconsistent on Sunday, with late spine-tilt that was more pronounced on curveballs than heaters, though the difference was subtle and his posture was respectable overall. Despite the postural inconsistencies, Odorizzi was able to repeat the timing elements of his delivery with a calm approach into foot strike that set up a storm of rotational velocity. The only mechanical issue was a lack of hip-shoulder separation, with late-firing hips that stuttered before rotating toward the plate, triggering the rotation of hips and shoulders in near-unison.


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A rotator cuff tears isn't a death sentence for a pitcher's career, but it's far from a positive prognosis.

Baseball pitchers and rotator cuff problems seem to go hand-in-hand despite the rotator cuff being much smaller than other muscles about the shoulder and upper back. The four small muscles that make up the rotator cuff are vital to the shoulder’s health and to a pitcher’s playing career. In fact, at one time, rotator cuff surgery was considered a career-ending sentence. That isn’t the case any longer, but it still hasn’t reached the level of relative certainty of ACL surgery or even Tommy John surgery. Without a healthy rotator cuff, a significant cascade effect culminating in shoulder instability and/or tears of the labrum is possible, if not inevitable. In today’s episode of Collateral Damage, we will be looking at the rotator cuff and ways of treating it in all of their complexity.

Anatomy
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that attach at different sites on the scapula, a.k.a. the shoulder blade. These four muscles are known as the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The main function of the rotator cuff as a group is to ensure that the humeral head stays centralized in the glenoid fossa. This cannot be emphasized enough. Two of the muscles—infraspinatus and teres minor—assist in external rotation of the shoulder, while the subscapularis is the only rotator cuff muscle whose role is as an internal rotator. The supraspinatus also assists in abduction, especially early in the motion. Without that rotator cuff, the humeral head would slide all over the place and tear up the labrum, articular cartilage, and other tendons in the area.
 



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March 30, 2010 4:14 am

Long Tossing

16

Gary Armida

Proponents saying throwing at long distances builds pitchers' arm strength and increases velocity.

Major League Baseball is more or less a standardized industry. Everything a player does can be quantified in some manner. Since the dawning of the information age, teams have trended toward statistical analysis as it gives more definite, calculated answers rather than general feelings that can often lead to overvaluing a player. Unfortunately, that precision hasn’t translated to on-field performance, as gut instincts still rule when it comes to pitcher conditioning. For pitchers, those gut instincts have led to an epidemic of pitching-related injuries. According to statistics compiled and confirmed by Baseball Prospectus' Will Carroll, Major League Baseball has spent more than $500 million in salary on injured pitchers the last two seasons. It is apparent that the majority of teams are just following the herd rather than researching methods to keep pitchers healthy. The result of this lack of exploration has led to the epidemic that Carroll describes.

Allan Jaeger, of Jaeger Sports, believes he has the program that can save pitchers from injury while increasing their velocity. Jaeger’s program is rooted in a traditional baseball exercise, long tossing. Since the early days of baseball, players have been long tossing. Most performed long tossing because they believed it strengthened their arm. Jaeger agrees. "If muscles are inactive for a long enough period of time, or aren't used close to their desired capacities, the life is taken out of them. When muscles are given proper blood flow, oxygen, and range of motion, they are free to work at their optimum capacity. A good long-toss program is the key to giving life to a pitcher’s arm."

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October 1, 2008 5:47 pm

Player Profile: Francisco Rodriguez

0

Marc Normandin, Eric Seidman and Will Carroll

With the saves record set, will he repeat his 2002 heroics in the postseason? And will his arm eventually fall off, or won't it?

Francisco Rodriguez has easily been one of the top closers in baseball since he was handed the full-time job back in 2005, and before that he was one of the game's top relievers, period. This is why it's no surprise that he's at the center of the discussions as to why the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were able to win 100 games this year-but was 2008, the year he set the record for most saves in a season, the best year of his career, or should we be worried that this isn't the same K-Rod we watched grow up in front of us on national television?

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The Phillies pitching prospect has endured a lot of changes the past few years, including a completely rebuilt delivery and a move to the bullpen.

As far as highly-regarded pitching prospects go, Josh Outman isn't particularly unique, but he used to be. Philadelphia's pick in the 10th round of the 2005 draft, the 23-year-old left-hander features a conventional pitching motion that has been completely retooled from the unorthodox and biomechanically-structured delivery he grew up with. David talked to Outman about his old motion, and what the change to a more traditional pitching style has meant to his career.

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An in-depth discussion about mechanics with the motion analysis coordinator and coach of the National Pitching Association.

Pitching is both an art and a science, and from youth leagues to the big leagues, so is the challenge of keeping pitchers healthy. The National Pitching Association (NPA) is on the cutting edge of research and instruction on all three fronts, and many of their concepts are shared in their forthcoming book, Arm Action, Arm Path, and the Perfect Pitch: a Science-Based Guide to Pitching Health and Performance. David talked to the NPA's motion analysis coordinator and coach, Doug Thorburn.

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July 20, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tom House

0

Jason Grady

BP recently visited with Tom House at the National Pitching Association (NPA) lab in San Diego and observed him instructing some youngsters at his mini-camp.

Baseball Prospectus: You last spoke to BP a couple of years ago. Just to get started, what's new at NPA since then?

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December 28, 2005 12:00 am

Under The Knife: What's Eating Mike Marshall?

0

Will Carroll

Will addresses the latest claims by the ex-pitcher turned coach.

What set me off this time? This article is just the latest attack. So let's break this down and then take a look at the work Marshall has done.

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September 24, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tom House, Part II

0

Jonah Keri

Baseball Prospectus: You've worked with some interesting characters over the years. What lessons did you learn from Bobby Valentine when you worked with him in Texas? Tom House: He's a perfectionist. He helped me create a preparation base as a pitching coach. One time I'd planned the rotation out to a certain day. He'd say that's not enough, tell me out to this day; five presentations later he finally gave it his stamp of approval. It was never enough, he was never just satisfied with what he had. His search for perfection and a better way to do things are second to none. He made me a better pitching coach.

Baseball Prospectus: You've worked with some interesting characters over the years. What lessons did you learn from Bobby Valentine when you worked with him in Texas?

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September 21, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tom House, Part I

0

Jonah Keri

A former major league pitcher who gained a boost of fame by catching Hank Aaron's 715th home run ball, Tom House is now a performance analyst and co-owner of the National Pitching Association in San Diego. Under House's stewardship, NPA has produced graduates such as Barry Zito, Mark Prior and Cole Hamels. Its advisory board includes such luminaries as Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, as well as medical experts such as Dr. Lewis Yocum and Dr. James Andrews. NPA counts about 125 graduates currently pitching in professional baseball, about three times that number in major U.S. colleges. House recently chatted with Baseball Prospectus about the huge advances in sports medicine and technology in the last two decades, the best pitching coaches in the game today, and more.

Baseball Prospectus: For those not familiar with the National Pitching Association, what does the organization do to help pitchers?

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January 26, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Part II

0

Jonah Keri

The American Sports Medicine Institute kicks off its 22nd annual "Injuries in Baseball" course Jan. 29 in Orlando. Today we continue from Part I of our discussion with ASMI's Smith and Nephew Chair of Research, Dr. Glenn Fleisig.

Baseball Prospectus: Do teams tend to send more major league pitchers or minor leaguers? What are some of the differences between the two groups?

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February 26, 2003 12:00 am

The Injury Nexus

0

Nate Silver and Will Carroll

Pitching is an unnatural act that invites injury. The stress it places on the bones of the shoulder, arm, and back is immense. The strain it places on the 36 muscles that attach to the humerus, clavicle, and scapula is remarkable. It is widely accepted by sports medicine practitioners that every pitch causes at least some amount of damage to the system.

It seems fair to say that the study of pitcher injuries is an important part of sabermetric analysis. The statistical evidence available to test theories about pitcher injuries, however, is often missing. While there are databases that contain every recorded statistic from the days of Al Spalding and beyond, and others that document every play of every game in the past 30 years, a comprehensive database of player injury history simply doesn't exist.

However, between a careful analysis of what data is available, the creative use of proxy variables in estimating injuries throughout time, and the application of some principles of sports medicine, we are at least in a position to make some educated guesses about the nature of pitcher injuries. Our particular focus in this article will be the progression of pitcher injury rates by age.

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