Astros’ Justin Verlander provides open, honest take on rash of pitching injuries

Justin Verlander's comments seem to indicate that pitchers may soon need to choose between what works the best and what keeps them on the mound the longest.
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five
Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Five / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The Houston Astros have not been immune from the recent pitcher injury pandemic. On Monday, the team had to scratch Framber Valdez from his start due to elbow soreness. This spring, both Justin Verlander and JP France dealt with injuries, with the former still working his way back into playing form.

These injuries haven't been as bad as what the Yankees have had to ensure with Gerrit Cole, and definitely not as bad as the Braves losing Spencer Strider to an elbow injury, but the Astros have certainly felt the sting.

There has been a lot of debate and sincere concern over the recent rise in injuries to pitchers. Some have pointed to the new pitch clock being a cause due to the lack of downtime between pitches for recovery. Others have blamed too many hard fastball and/or too many hard breaking balls. Pitching year-round, being taught poor mechanics, overuse as amateurs ... the list of causes goes on and on.

The topic has been so hot that Astros starter Justin Verlander, who is no stranger to injuries, was asked about the issue and his comments gave everyone a lot to think about.

Justin Verlander provides sober analysis of pitcher injury pandemic

It was nice to see Verlander provide an honest, clear-eyed view of what is going on with pitching in baseball. There is no way that one factor that could be responsible for what we are seeing, and every player is different. However, when pitchers are, on average, throwing harder than ever, spinning the ball more than ever, have limits on what substances they can use for grip, have to adjust to many different baseballs, throwing nearly year-round, and doing all of that at younger ages, it is no wonder injuries are on the rise.

Pitching has been right up against the line of what is sustainable from a health perspective for a long time now. Once baseball learned the true value of velocity and spin, pitchers have been in a literal arms race as to who can push the envelope when it comes to their arsenal and preparation the most. That work has undoubtedly yielded results, but the cost has been substantial as we have seen in recent years.

Something has to give, though. Maybe we see changes in how guys prepare and recover along with tweaks to the pitch clock. Or maybe we see new, less strenuous pitches make a return to prominence. One thing Verlander is absolutely correct on though: baseball can't afford to wait too long to start fixing the problem.

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