He was just making guys look silly in only his second career start. The first 3 innings had 6 K’s and 3 ground outs. Got in trouble in one inning, but got Piazza to ground into a 5-4-3. I had no idea who this guy was, and he was just electric.
Pitchers can be reliable if they have good pitching mechanics. Brandon Webb did not have good mechanics (he really pulls his elbow and arm above his holder during windup) and it cost him his excellent career. Baseball people and writers for years have been discussing pitchers breaking down but they really get to the source of the problem. Pitching mechanics cannot be measured quantitatively, which frustrates sabermatricians on here. Until this problem is identified qualitatively, the problem will continue.
So James h, that was my reaction also to Webb’s implosion and now the epitaph on his career. We don’t see his wind-up in the ‘gifs [thanks for the .gifs, btw Jeff], so it’s hard to envision his full motion. However, his arm does seem behind his body in all of them, an effect only exaggerated by Webb finishing his follow through down and away for the two-seamer and not a bit higher for a more typical four-seamer. Some guys with unhelpful mechanics manage to endure them longer, but mechanical flaws should always raise doubt. Too bad, ’cause Brandon was good with what he threw.
I’m old enough to remember Wayne Garland’s contract. Luckless Wayne is the name that I always flash on whenever these conversations (inevitably) come up again.
Comment by Balthazar — February 5, 2013 @ 12:43 am
“Catfish” Jim Hunter was an excellent, durable pitcher until *shred* he wasn’t; and then wasn’t even a pitching pitcher ever again. And everyone knows about Koufax. “Smokey” Joe Wood was called ‘the best pitcher in the game’ _by Walter Johnson_, and might have been, then *snap*, he was working on a (decent) comeback—as a hitter. The points being: a) pitchers blowing up is nothing new but all too old, and b) it happens to the best just like the rest. Everything can end on one pitch, and all too often does.
Comment by Balthazar — February 5, 2013 @ 12:48 am
My point is more about how baseball and websites have tried for decades to reduce pitchers from injury but their problem is you can’t solve something when you don’t know what the problem is! When going to 5 man rotations failed they went to pitch counts. When that didn’t reduce injuries, they went to inning limits reducing loads on younger pitchers. Sabermatricians have come up with pitcher abuse points to try to quantify a cause. I know for years the guy who lead the league was mark buerlie. He still is pitching and not breaking down. But when you see his mechanics, you realize why he doesn’t break down. Greg Maddox had the best mechanics ever for a pitcher and threw 5000 innings and retired only when he lost effectiveness, but never broke down. I think what.has happened to Stephen Strasburg is a case in point. They did everything to hold him back and still blew out his elbow. They thought by doing this it would prevent him from over pitching and ending up like Kerry wood but they didn’t realize that Kerry Wood and Strasburg both got hurt cause their mechanics stink!
Comment by HollywoodDodger — February 5, 2013 @ 4:44 am
Thank goodness the Braves unloaded Tommy Hanson. He’s exactly like Brandon Webb, except will never have 6 years of being remotely good, and will likely retire within the next 4 years, before he turns 30.
Comment by Dan Ugglas Forearm — February 5, 2013 @ 9:24 am
Mechanics might have something to do with it, but keep in mind, Webb’s mechanics did get him to the bigs, and let him pitch 6 seasons in a row over 180 innings at a very high level.
Every time a good pitcher goes down with injury, people are so quick to yell “mechanics!”, but it’s foolish. We don’t know if “better” mechanics could have prevented the injury, we don’t know if “better” mechanics would have allowed the pitcher to still pitch effectively, we don’t even know what “better” mechanics truly are.
There are things that pitchers intentionally do, like “cock the gun” and “rely on sliders” (not mechanics, but a conscious decision), which they know come with increased risk, but also increased reward.
If you had the choice of being a pitcher with risky mechanics that makes it to the ML’s or a pitcher with less risky mechanics that doesn’t, what do you choose?
I say that because we have to stop acting like these pitchers would be the same quality pitchers if they changed to more efficient mechanics. They might be more durable, but they also might throw 2-3 mph less, or have less deception, etc.
Durability is not the ONLY important characteristic of a pitcher. People often claim to want consistency and durability and act as if they are the end goal. Believe me, no one touts the consistency and durability of a player that puts up -1 WAR seasons every year while playing every game/start.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 5, 2013 @ 11:16 am
…and you’d have lifetime Medical/dental/vision care :)
Sorry you went bankrupt. i had Peavy in 2009 as well.
Comment by Kiss my Go Nats — February 5, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
I wonder sometimes if it’s better to reach those heights to have them cruelly snatched away or to never reach them at all.
Webb was good enough for long enough that I’m sure he would never claim it wasn’t worth it. However, I think I wouldn’t ever want to be a top prospect who is primed to dominate in the majors only to get injured and lost my career. Some would probably say that to be a top prospect and get that attention, and to be able to play at near-MLB level would be worth it, but I think the disappointment would be too great.
I have never seen anyone claim that mechanics are not important or that they aren’t a big factor. I don’t know who you’re responding to.
Sabermetrics people identify statistical causes because that’s their area of expertise. Pitching coaches identify mechanical causes because that’s their areas of expertise. The truth is undoubtedly that both are necessary to totally understand the problem.
Greg Maddux’s mechanics are also not optimal to maximize velocity. He excelled because he had once in a lifetime command and control.
If more guys had his ability/skill in that regard, then maybe more guys could get away with having lesser velocity.
Given today’s premium on velocity, someone like Greg Maddux might get drafted really low as compared to where he actually did get drafted.
The emphasis on scouting, drafting pitchers is size, velocity, and the slider replacing the curveball.
Pitchers that emphasize the fastball-changeup combo (like King Felix) end up being more durable than those that rely on fastball-slider.
The problem, for pitchers, is that the fastball slider combo at high velocities is just so darn effective.
Justin Verlander was another that was viewed to have less than ideal mechanics (by some … I don’t agree). He’s a heel lander and has a some timing issues.
He’s been pretty darn durable despite heavy workloads and high velocity.
It’s time to view pitchers like we do running backs. They ARE going to get hurt. So you get out of them what you can, while you can … and you try not to give them mega-money long-term contracts if you don’t have to.
What I would like to see are pitchers that have “good mechanics” by some set, measurable standard and then check their injury rate as compared to others … perhaps even place pitchers into 3 or 4 groups based on their degrees from optimal.
But, what we tend to do now is look at pitchers after the fact and note their IP workloads and injury rates and THEN deem them as having good/bad mechanics.
Dan haren is a good example … for years touted as a good mechanics guy, now that he’s been on the decline and had some nagging arm problems he’s in the “maybe not so good” group (not fair).
Does Jared Weaver have good/bad mechanics? What about Kershaw? King Felix?
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 5, 2013 @ 4:22 pm
What’s going to be frustrating is that when TL55 gets injured. FINALLY, all those questioning his mechanics are going to throw themselves a parade. “See I told ya those crazy mechanics were going to lead to an injury” … completely ignoring that a 5’11 175 (soaking wet with rocks min his pockets) pitcher dominated baseball for years and was pretty good for 2 more years, throwing pure gas and teaching us more about mechanics than perhaps any other pitcher in baseball.
The problem with pitching injuries is that we don’t have a good % of what % is mechanics and what % is workload.
So, in regards to TL55, we could say …
1. Small build pitchers are not typically durable.
2. He had huge workloads early in his career.
3. He’s starting to decline and/or breakdown.
There are also questions regarding his conditioning and off-season routines.
Comment by CircleChange11 — February 5, 2013 @ 4:28 pm
The late movement on that pitch to Pujols was a thing of beauty.
Comment by Talihina89 — February 5, 2013 @ 5:42 pm