MASH Report (4/17/14) – Initial PAIN Report

• All right, home work time. Here is a must read article by Tom Verducci from SI on Tommy John surgeries. A key point for fantasy baseball owners is this:

But in a sport in which 24.2 percent of players on Opening Day rosters grew up in Latin America, only one of the 20 Tommy John patients came from there (Detroit reliever Bruce Rondon, of Venezuela).

“Latin American pitchers are allowed to grow into their velocity,” said one international scouting director. “It’s a common story to sign a guy throwing 84, 85 [mph] who eventually winds up throwing in the 90s. Michael Pineda is one. You’re looking for someone with a good, athletic body who can throw the ball around the plate and has a feel for spinning the ball. The velocity comes in time, with training and better nutrition and physical growth. Here? The statistics don’t lie. We need to look elsewhere around the world to learn a better way. It’s time.”

Young American kids throwing hard for long time may be a major factor in tearing their UCL.

A.J. Burnett is pitching through the pain of a hernia this afternoon for the Phillies. Here is his explanation why:

“I guess ‘manageable’ [means] that I’m going to have to deal with it,” Burnett said on Tuesday. “Paying attention to it, knowing it’s there, knowing what I can do to overdo it and knowing what I can do to keep it where it needs to be. I’m more of a go-getter, and I’m not really a ‘take it easy’ kind of guy, so it’s going to be a test.”

At the time I sent this article off for posting, he is throwing between 89 and 92 mph which may be a bit lower than normal, but better than I thought he would.

• Hisashi Iwakuma threw his first split-fingered fastball since going on the DL.

Iwakuma, 33, missed all of Spring Training after spraining a tendon in his right middle finger after catching it in a netting during a mound drill just prior to the start of camp. He threw his third bullpen session on Tuesday and this time included his trademark split-fingered fastball, which puts maximum pressure on his injured finger.

“I felt great today,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “I was able to command all my pitches to both sides of the plate and keep the ball down. They released me from the split finger, too, and that felt great.”

Iwakuma acknowledged the splitter was a big test and had been something of a concern.

I was beginning to worry a bit since he hadn’t thrown it, but all seems a bit better now.

• Stay away from starting Bartolo Colon this weekend as he is dealing with back spasms.

• It is pretty sadistic, but I love finding out when a pitcher threw with some pain. I like to see what signs may have existed to exhibit injury concerns. On Tuesday, Blake Beavan pitched with some shoulder issues.

Beavan said he essentially has “dead arm” from a knot in his shoulder that isn’t allowing him to throw freely.

“I just had no life on my ball,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I had a great opportunity to help these guys and fill the void of other guys being down. Now I’m in the same situation, but hopefully it’s something where in the next 10 days we can get out of there and slide back into the action and help us win some ballgames.”

Taking a look back at the game, his fastball velocity was down over 3 mph from his 2013 average.

Unlike some pitchers, he didn’t see a drop during the game. Instead the decline happened at the outset of the game. Also, he his release points displayed an upward slanting line. He was trying different release points until he found one which was comfortable.

Kole Calhoun will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained ankle.

• Logan Morrison is DL bound with a strained hamstring.

• Francisco Cervelli will be out at least two months with a strained hamstring.

• Taijuan Walker will be shut down for two weeks and then he will find out when he can start throwing again. In a redraft league, I think I would try to move him for whatever you can get. We are looking at May until he may or may not start throwing. Even if he gets to the majors, it will be tough to determine how productive he will be.

• The disabled list isn’t just for managing injured players, it for managing an entire roster. Jeremy Affeldt was healthy and was ready to come off the DL. If the Giants added him, another pitcher would have needed to clear waivers. Eventually, the Giants decided to add Affeldt, demote outfielder Juan Perez and go with a 13 man pitching staff.

Fastball Velocities by DL Returners

Colby Lewis‘s velocity is fine.

And so is Tyler Chatwood‘s.

PAIN (Pitcher Abuse INdex) Rankings (min 5 IP in 2014)

Any player with a PAIN value over 100 (red) has the traits of a pitcher likely to be hurt.

Name PAIN Velocity (2014) Velocity (2013) Zone% (2014) Zone% (2013) IP (2014) IP (2013)
Erik Johnson 199 89.5 92.0 37.6% 46.9% 17.0 27.2
Francisco Liriano 183 91.7 93.0 38.4% 42.2% 25.0 161.0
Roberto Hernandez 143 90.1 91.3 41.7% 50.1% 16.1 151.0
Jason Hammel 128 92.5 92.7 46.3% 50.0% 20.2 139.1
Trevor Cahill 127 90.0 89.8 36.2% 44.2% 17.2 146.2
Felix Hernandez 124 91.2 91.3 41.7% 46.7% 28.1 204.1
Dallas Keuchel 121 89.3 89.1 38.2% 46.9% 18.0 153.2
Martin Perez 114 91.4 93.0 40.8% 48.3% 20.0 124.1
Wade Miley 110 90.7 91.4 39.7% 46.4% 25.0 202.2
Brandon League 107 92.9 94.3 32.9% 47.9% 6.1 54.1
Lucas Harrell 102 90.9 92.2 35.7% 40.5% 12.1 153.2
Bruce Chen 95 84.7 85.5 44.2% 57.0% 10.0 121.0
Brad Ziegler 93 84.7 86.0 31.6% 41.3% 8.1 73.0
Luke Gregerson 91 87.1 88.1 34.3% 45.1% 9.2 66.1
Zack Greinke 87 91.3 91.7 41.9% 46.1% 16.1 177.2
A.J. Burnett 85 91.4 92.5 41.4% 49.2% 16.0 191.0
Kevin Jepsen 84 93.5 90.5 41.0% 47.3% 5.0 36.0
J.P. Howell 83 86.1 87.3 33.3% 42.9% 7.1 62.0
Dan Jennings 82 92.3 92.0 35.1% 43.8% 7.0 40.2
Jake Peavy 82 89.2 90.3 44.6% 51.4% 18.2 144.2

What a loaded list. Here are some thoughts

• I won’t even start with Liriano only throwing strikes less than 35% of the time (but I kind of did). His velocity is down to 91.5 mph. Here are his ERA and ERA estimator when his fastball velocity is under 92 mph.

Season, Avg FB Velo: ERA/FIP/xFIP/SIERA
2009, 91.7: 5.80/4.87/4.48/4.37
2011, 91.8: 5.09/4.54/4.52/4.52
2014, 91.5: 3.96/4.08/2.90/3.22

If people think Liriano is struggling now, it could get worse.

• Cahill’s struggles have been noted and he is headed to the bullpen. Besides the inability to throw strikes and velocity loss, he has a angle vs. flat release point pattern.

• Lucas Harrell will take his struggles to the minors.

• Bruce Chen will sit with a lat muscle issue

Players on or Probably on the DL to Start the 2014 Season

(*) 15 Day Disabled List
(**) 60 Day Disabled List
(***) 7 Day Concussion List
(****) Free Agent
Red colored entries are updates since last report.

Major League Report


Minor League Report

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Pineda? Seems he missed some time recently, right?

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

The point was specifically about UCL injuries and Tommy John surgery.

Jonathan Sher
Jonathan Sher

But that point was missing crucial context when the case example missed more than an entire year after tearing the anterior labral in his right shoulder and a history of shoulder problems before then.

Unless he injured his shoulder by too vigorously stirring his martini, his injury is baseball related, dates back to his early professional days and may be partly a product of how he grew into pitching.

The broader and more important question, after all, is whether certain usage and training make pitcher more vulnerable to breaking down no matter where along the arm the injury occurs.