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Elbow Injuries Caused By Change Ups?


Falconsfan567
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For years and years it was thought that the most severe pitch for a pitcher to throw was the slider because of the pressure it put on the elbow. It was believed that was the pitch that led to pitchers getting hurt and that if they didn't throw that pitch then they wouldn't get hurt. This was funneled down all the way to the high school and little league levels where pitchers in most cases weren't allowed to throw sliders or any kind of breaking pitch in most cases.

But is the change up the pitch that causes elbow injuries? Look at threw prominate pitchers, all in their 20s, all facing their second Tommy John surgery of their career, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Jarrod Parker. All pitchers who have very good change ups. It was even comfirmed that the pitch that Medlen got hurt on this time was a change up. Change up's cause an incredible amount of stress on the elbow because your goal is to slow down the speed of the ball while keeping your arm speed the same to mimick a fastball. Look at other pitchers that have had Tommy John surgery, among just the Braves, Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson and Eric O'Flaherty. All 3 have very good change ups that are a big part of their success as MLB pitchers.

What do you guys think?

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It's all mechanical. Guy's nowadays better throw 90+ or they won't even get looked at by clubs. That kind of pressure forces guys to max themselves out more which leads to improper body mechanics and puts major stress on the elbow. Having thrown all types of pitches myself I can tell you I felt the most discomfort throwing breaking pitches and a split finger fastball. Pitchers careers would last longer if they could back off the velocity and learn to use location and ball movement more. Today it's more about throwing rather than actually pitching.

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It's all mechanical. Guy's nowadays better throw 90+ or they won't even get looked at by clubs. That kind of pressure forces guys to max themselves out more which leads to improper body mechanics and puts major stress on the elbow. Having thrown all types of pitches myself I can tell you I felt the most discomfort throwing breaking pitches and a split finger fastball. Pitchers careers would last longer if they could back off the velocity and learn to use location and ball movement more. Today it's more about throwing rather than actually pitching.

Neither Beachy or Medlen fit that club of all out velocity. Both are location and movement pitchers yet both are having Tommy John again. Jarrod Parker is the same type of pitcher.

Most of the time when you hear about a pitcher getting hurt it's usually followed by the words "forearm tightness" later on followed by the words "Tommy John surgery." I've experienced forearm tightness in just my normal everyday life but I imagine and pain and discomfort from it while throwing a baseball at 90 mph is far more severe pain.

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I don't think there's any one answer. I believe part of the issue is year-round throwing in travel ball/high school. Kids aren't allowing their arms to recover.

I am also not convinced that elbow injuries are more of less prevalent than before. Before Tommy John, pitchers just played through it ineffectually until they were quickly drummed out of the league without a lot of press. After Tommy John, pitchers had more opportunity to come back and it's more publicized.

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Neither Beachy or Medlen fit that club of all out velocity. Both are location and movement pitchers yet both are having Tommy John again. Jarrod Parker is the same type of pitcher.

Most of the time when you hear about a pitcher getting hurt it's usually followed by the words "forearm tightness" later on followed by the words "Tommy John surgery." I've experienced forearm tightness in just my normal everyday life but I imagine and pain and discomfort from it while throwing a baseball at 90 mph is far more severe pain.

Whether they throw 90 or 98 is does not matter. If they are maxing out their arm they are putting an undue amount of stress on the joint and that will only lead to problems.

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I don't think there's any one answer. I believe part of the issue is year-round throwing in travel ball/high school. Kids aren't allowing their arms to recover.

I am also not convinced that elbow injuries are more of less prevalent than before. Before Tommy John, pitchers just played through it ineffectually until they were quickly drummed out of the league without a lot of press. After Tommy John, pitchers had more opportunity to come back and it's more publicized.

I agree that the year around throwing is a problem. That goes back to kids been groomed for one sport now days and not being allowed to play a bunch of different sports that utilizes different muscles and joints. Listen to older folks talk about how things were when they were going up. They played baseball, football, basketball, track and field, cross country, ect. But now days very few kids play more than one or two sports and they're picked to play one sport and focus on that sport year around. Take Jason Heyward for example. Since he was 11 or 12 or something along those lines all he's ever done in his life is play baseball. He's never played any other sports and he's done it year around so his body never got a rest. Could have led to some of the nagging injuries he's had.

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I agree that the year around throwing is a problem. That goes back to kids been groomed for one sport now days and not being allowed to play a bunch of different sports that utilizes different muscles and joints. Listen to older folks talk about how things were when they were going up. They played baseball, football, basketball, track and field, cross country, ect. But now days very few kids play more than one or two sports and they're picked to play one sport and focus on that sport year around. Take Jason Heyward for example. Since he was 11 or 12 or something along those lines all he's ever done in his life is play baseball. He's never played any other sports and he's done it year around so his body never got a rest. Could have led to some of the nagging injuries he's had.

it's all about trying to get that scholarship. If you are a baseball or basketball player, some schools don't want you to play football. With basketball and baseball all of your top players are doing it year round. So if you want to keep up you have to also. Can't play year round football. But the colleges are the reason for year round basketball. And I suspect MLB and colleges are for baseball.
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I can't remember where I found the article but I read where Dominican pitchers have a lower % tommy john and they play year around. Their arms are better conditioned for the stress. My son is in college pitching now. He has thrown a slider for years with no injury. His first injury to his arm ever was this past fall when his college made him learn a change up. Few pitches actually are harmful to your arm if you learn your natural arm action an base your pitches around that. Most off speed pitches ans simply grip, spin, and minor rotation with the wrist, the issue comes when pitchers try to make a pitch even more dynamic by adding extra spin which will create more movement. This adds undo stress to the elbow. Medlen made his CU more like a screw ball when he can down and in to RH hitters adding twist to make it dive harder and later is much more stress.

Just my uneducated opinion.

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I can't remember where I found the article but I read where Dominican pitchers have a lower % tommy john and they play year around. Their arms are better conditioned for the stress. My son is in college pitching now. He has thrown a slider for years with no injury. His first injury to his arm ever was this past fall when his college made him learn a change up. Few pitches actually are harmful to your arm if you learn your natural arm action an base your pitches around that. Most off speed pitches ans simply grip, spin, and minor rotation with the wrist, the issue comes when pitchers try to make a pitch even more dynamic by adding extra spin which will create more movement. This adds undo stress to the elbow. Medlen made his CU more like a screw ball when he can down and in to RH hitters adding twist to make it dive harder and later is much more stress.

Just my uneducated opinion.

Thank you for your uneducated opinion. :) But it does make some sense.

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I wouldn't say Hudson was known for his changeup, as he had an awesome CG against the Reds years ago and claimed the performance due to rediscovering it. Then again, he's a veteran so that's hard to gauge. He just had a knack for deception due to his height and delivery.

As for Kimbrel, his fastball is nearly untouchable, but his curve has been his get ahead pitch. A simple Google "Kimbrel curveball gif" search will do it justice if you doubt.

It does make me wonder, even back to Johan Santana and how quickly he fell off. He had one of the best (outside Pedro) changeups, but eventually it caught up with his shoulder.

Then again, look how long Pedro lasted on that pitch and how far he went. Was he just an enigma with it or did he condition just right?

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Change up for most pitchers is the same as a fastball with just a different grip. I threw mine like a fastball but because of the grip, it came out slower and died at the plate. Curveballs and sliders are still a bigger culprit to leading to these type of injuries as you're adding extra torque on your elbow though I tried to throw mine like a fastball except with my pitching hand sideways throughout the motion instead of snapping it in the middle of the pitch.

Shoulder injuries are a lot more career ending and tougher to get your velocity back.

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I'm only a moderate baseball fan but wouldn't Maddux and Glavine throw this off a little.I don't remember either one throwing much faster than the low 90's but both had a wicked change up correct?

Right. But look at most of the pitchers that have gotten hurt in the last few years. It's not necessarily the guys throwing 95 plus blowing out their elbows. It's guys like Medlen, Beachy and Parker that a movement and location pitchers. Heck even position players are having to have the surgery done now. That's the part I really don't understand about the spike in the number of players having to have Tommy John surgery over say 10 or 15 years ago. Peter Moylan posted on Twitter a few days ago that we've got to find out the reason for the increase in Tommy John surgeries and start looking at ways to try to prevent it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The spike in blown out elbows is twofold, in my opinion. First, pitchers are, more than ever, being pushed to pitch for power. Second, the mechanics have changed a lot in the past decade and a lot of the deliveries are stressful on elbows since, again, they're geared to throw for power. What I mean by that is you don't see the overhead pump, and other similar delivery styles, much anymore and instead they are torquing the throwing arm from below the belt. The prior relaxes the arm to create a smooth, constant throwing motion while the other you're putting pressure on your arm to create sudden, immediate velocity. In essence, today's pitchers are developing stressful deliveries to increase the velocity of their pitches along with putting as much power as they can behind them as opposed to most pitchers prior to this era who opted more for control which developed less stressful deliveries with high velocity being a nice bonus if you had that as well.

I know it will sound lame but you can feel it yourself if you mimic Greg Maddux's delivery and, say, Tommy Hanson's delivery. You can throw all day with Maddux's delivery but the first time you do Hanson's you can feel the stress on your elbow.

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