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MASH Report (7/30/13) – Lester and Greinke In Detail

After updating the DL information and looking at some pitchers returning from the DL yesterday, today I will now examine at a few other players and publish an updated PAIN and HURT leader board.

Jason Marquis‘s season has ended with him needing Tommy John surgery. He had been dealing with pain for a little while before the final snap.

Marquis, 34, who was 9-5 this season with a 4.05 earned run average in 20 starts, felt pain in his elbow in at least one start immediately before the All-Star break.

“This was not one pitch,” said Black. “But it jumped up and got him Friday night.

Marquis started Friday night’s second-half opener in St. Louis and allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings without striking out a hitter. His fastball velocity dropped into the mid-80s.

The pitcher later told Padres officials that his elbow didn’t feel right.

Marquis was a leader in the PAIN rankings and eventually the cause of his loss in velocity and control came to the surface. While not every pitcher at the top of the PAIN list will end up on the DL, they are just more likely to miss time because of injury.

Jon Lester‘s skipped a start last week and rumors came out he was hurt. The 29-year-old stated he was not hurt.

While Lester has a 4.58 ERA this year (76th among the 93 pitchers who qualify for the ERA title), he suggested that health concerns were not a factor in his struggles. Though his season to date has featured two drastically different stretches — a 6-0 record and 2.72 ERA through nine starts and a 2-6 record and 6.27 ERA in 11 starts since …

First, his seasonal stats don’t point to an injury. His Zone% is up from 2012 and his velocity is the same.

The problems may be more to do with his placement on the pitching rubber. Here are the left-hander’s horizontal release points over the course of this season (the larger the number, the closer the pitcher’s release point is to first base).

He moved closer to the center of the rubber and then shifted slightly back to the first base side. Here is Lester’s stats as he has moved around on the pitching rubber:

First 6 games: 3.11 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
Next 8 games: 4.86 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Final 8 games: 4.56 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9

I am not sure why Lester moved his positioning on the rubber by almost a foot. After the move, he struggled quite a bit. As he has come back more to the 1B side his results have improved. I don’t believe Lester is hurt, instead a major change in pitching rubber position may have cause the decrease in production.

• It looks like Zack Greinke may have came back from shoulder collar bone surgery a little too early and his production suffered. His fastball speed has increased from averaging 91 mph after returning from the DL to 93 mph now.

At the same time, his Zone% is decreasing:

Finally, I noticed he has almost quit throwing his slider.

Season: Slider%
2011: 19%
2012: 13%
2013: 4%

Sliders have been know to put more stress/pain on an arm than a normal fastball which may be why Zack is throwing it less.

I think Zack’s injury risk is less than it was when I looked at him two and half months ago, but he still has quite a few red flags.

Carlos Gonzalez expects to play through pain in his middle finger for the rest of the season. If his production falls off, the reason will be known.

Brian Wilson is supposedly looking good in a comeback attempt. The most relevant data is “His fastball was 90-93 mph.” Taking an average of 91.5 mph would mean a drop of 2 mph from last season and 3.5 mph drop from 2010. I can see a team take a chance on him, but keep your expectations of him in check.

• After trying to come back, it looks like Chris Carpenter is done for the season.

• At MLBInjuryNews.com, Darius Austin looked at the 2013 mid season DL totals. The Royals are the healthiest team with the least number of days lost and total trips. On the other hand, the Dodgers have the most trips and the Marlins have lost the most days.

• Chas Pippitt and Justin Orenduff at BaseballRebellion.com look in detail at Daniel Hudson‘s failed TJS surgery.

• Dr James Andrews discusses how current medicine would have changed the careers of past athletes whose careers were cut short because of injury.

HURT (Hitter’s Under-performance from Recent Trauma) Rankings (all hitter with 100 PA in 2013 and 500 PA from 2010 to 2012):

Any player with a HURT value over 100 has the traits of a batter playing through an injury. Differentiating opinion exist on his heath.

Name HURT 2013 PA 2010 to 2012 PA
B.J. Upton 201.6 318 1883
Seth Smith 184.8 333 1372
Nolan Reimold 171.6 140 505
Albert Pujols 140.4 443 2021
Jason Kubel 135.6 231 1554
Chris Iannetta 134.4 268 902
Alex Avila 122.4 257 1318
Aramis Ramirez 121.2 209 1763
Melky Cabrera 118.8 369 1716
Lance Berkman 115.2 282 1165
Vernon Wells 109.2 357 1437
Justin Turner 108 112 690
Miguel Montero 106.8 376 1457
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 105.6 317 864
Cesar Izturis 104.4 113 719
Chris Johnson 100.8 334 1295
Jimmy Rollins 98.4 439 1724
Dustin Ackley 97.2 253 1044
John Jaso 97.2 249 1038
Kevin Youkilis 96 118 1461
Giancarlo Stanton 94.8 272 1498
Matt Kemp 93.6 251 1806
Delmon Young 91.2 263 1724
Brandon Inge 91.2 110 1214
Paul Konerko 88.8 312 1868

Dustin Ackley makes the ranking because of a non-existent ISO (.056). I can’t find any information on an early season injury. He injured his thumb at the end the June, but his struggles existed way before then. After the 2012 season, he had bone spurs removed, so hopefully he would be hitting better in 2013. Not the case. It would be nice to have an injury explanation of Ackley’s monumental suckitude, but so far I can’t find one.

PAIN (Pitcher Abuse INdex) Rankings (30 IP in 2012, 30 IP in 2013)

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

Name PAIN IP (2013) IP (2012)
Jeff Locke 229.7 121.2 34.1
Jason Marquis 212.2 117.2 127.2
Lucas Harrell 184.3 115.0 193.2
Esmil Rogers 145.4 88.2 78.2
Tanner Scheppers 138.3 47.2 32.1
Pedro Strop 120.1 33.1 66.1
Alexi Ogando 112.7 65.0 66.0
Matt Moore 112.1 121.1 177.1
Luis Mendoza 99.0 84.2 166.0
Francisco Liriano 96.8 95.2 156.2
Zack Greinke 95.5 98.0 212.1
Scott Feldman 94.5 122.2 123.2
John Axford 90.5 44.0 69.1
Adam Ottavino 87.9 51.1 79.0
Felix Hernandez 81.1 153.2 232.0
Jered Weaver 80.8 88.2 188.2
Scott Downs 80.2 30.2 45.2
Jordan Walden 75.5 35.0 39.0
Burke Badenhop 72.8 45.2 62.1
Ryan Webb 72.3 47.2 60.1
Craig Stammen 71.4 54.1 88.1
Tony Sipp 70.2 30.0 55.0
Mark Melancon 68.4 49.1 45.0
Ryan Dempster 66.6 121.0 173.0
Ivan Nova 64.4 66.0 170.1

• Recently traded, Scott Downs makes the PAIN list. All signs look to the Braves taking on a huge injury risk. His fastball velocity is down 2 mph over the last month.

He has always had problems throwing strikes (43% Zone%) by it is down even more (40%) in 2013. The 37-year-old has been on the DL once in 2012, twice in 2011 and several other times before those three trips. I hope the Braves dug a little deeper than just looking at the shiny 1.76 ERA if they need him for a stretch run.