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Why are the Number of MLB Pitching Injuries Rising?

If you have been paying attention to MLB news lately, you can agree that it has been challenging to find news that is not about pitching injuries. In recent weeks, many high-leverage starters and relievers have gone on the injured list with elbow and shoulder injuries. Some injuries require season-ending surgery, while others will only be sidelined for a few months.   


The question is, why are so many pitchers going down with injuries this season? Even with the slight decrease in the pitching clock time when there are men on base, the rate of injuries this season is alarming.   


Here are some examples of pitchers suffering from injuries, both season-ending and day-to-day.


Photo Credits: Megan Briggs / Getty Images


The Pitchers Out for the Year 

Even though the season just started, a few pitchers have already gotten season-ending surgery. Multiple starters and relievers have had or are planning to undergo surgery that will keep them out until at least the beginning of Spring Training next season.   


One of the most impactful losses has to be Eury Perez, a starter for the Marlins. At only 20 years old, Perez had an impressive rookie season and was supposed to take over for Sandy Alcantara and be the Marlins ace this year. At the end of Spring Training, Perez suffered from inflammation in his right elbow and is now scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery.   


Another impactful loss was Guardians ace Shane Bieber. In his first two starts this season, Bieber did not allow a run and looked like he would have a massive comeback year. However, the Guardians announced that Bieber suffered a right elbow injury and would have to undergo Tommy John surgery.


Photo Credits: Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press


The Pitchers Sidelined... For Now 

Throughout Spring Training and the first few weeks of regular season action, a significant number of pitchers have experienced shoulder and elbow injuries that will limit their innings. While Spring Training is usually a time for players to get acclimated to pitching again, there are times when the workload is too much. For Gerrit Cole and Kodai Senga, these issues started early.   


Cole, now on the 60-day injured list because of elbow fatigue, felt his injury after his recovery time was not enough to bounce back correctly. Thankfully for the Yankees, Cole’s elbow had no structural damage, and he has already begun his throwing program.   


Senga also felt his injury at the beginning of Spring Training, except he did not pitch in a game before the damage occurred. While Senga does not need Tommy John surgery right now, the Mets just placed him on the 60-day injured list and hope he can begin his throwing program soon.


Photo Credits: Dustin Satloff / Getty Images


Once the season officially started, so did the injuries. In a previous blog, I discussed my predictions for the Cy Young Awards. My predictions, Spencer Strider and Framber Valdez are out for the foreseeable future. Strider has a UCL injury and currently has no timetable for when he will be returning to major league action. Strider is at least out for the season after undergoing UCL surgery, but he was able to avoid Tommy John surgery. Valdez, on the other hand, is suffering from elbow inflammation, similar to many pitchers. Astros manager Joe Espada hopes Valdez will only have to miss a few of his starts. 


Other pitchers, like Nick Pivetta and Josiah Gray, are also suffering from elbow injuries that are expected to sideline them for at least a few weeks. Both the Red Sox and the Nationals are hopeful that they will not miss too much time since there is no structural damage to either pitcher's elbow that would raise the injury concern. 


Photo Credits: Dennis Poroy / Associated Press


Remaining Questions 

While there is speculation about why the number of pitching injuries is so high in 2024, many older pitchers believe it is the expectations of today’s pitchers. While pitchers originally were expected to pitch very late into games despite a high pitch count, this is hardly the case today. The reason for this, however, is that throwing at high velocities with high spin rates is no longer an anomaly like it once was. Even the most legendary pitchers could not hit 100 MPH, which is common among pitchers today.   


Another reason for these pitching injuries could be the pitch clock. Many pitchers, like Jacob deGrom and Alcantara, had to get season-ending surgeries last year during the inaugural season of the pitch clock. Without giving pitchers another chance to get used to this change in 2024, MLB reduced the time between pitches even more without giving pitchers another chance to get used to this change in 2024. With that comes more injuries from those who were not prepared for the changes.


Strider is one pitcher who has voiced his displeasure with the pitch clock, telling reporters how he believes MLB is mismanaging the future of pitching and making it harder for athletes to maintain health. MLBPA leader Tony Clark has echoed these sentiments, although MLB has refuted them multiple times.   

 

Edited By: Sarah Muñoz 

Social Media Content Created By: Jenna Rose Weisenbach

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