Lately there has been a veritable epidemic of blown-out pitching elbows in the major leagues, leading to a record number of Tommy John surgeries.
Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez became the latest big-name power arm to join the list of young hurlers being forced to undergo the ligament repair procedure pioneered by Dr. Frank Jobe and named after former Yankees star Tommy John.
This rash of Tommy Johns, a great thing for surgeons but not so much baseball fans, has led to a major argument among experts over what might be going on to cause so much arm trouble in so many young pitchers. Many believe young arms are overworked, especially at the collegiate and high school levels, and perhaps earlier.
Something happened recently in Rochester that will lend credence to the belief that young pitchers are having too great a work load placed on their still-developing ligaments. A high school pitcher named Dylan Fosnacht reportedly threw 194 pitches in a 14 inning game. That…is a lot of pitches.
Fosnacht struck out 17 batters in 14 innings before losing it in the top of the 15th and allowing a pair of base runners. It was then that his manager finally decided he’d had enough.
The manager, Jerry Striegel, found himself coming under a little bit of fire for his decision to leave Fosnacht in so long, possibly jeopardizing his long-term arm health in the process. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price was one of those getting on Striegel’s case.
— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) May 15, 2014
Fosnacht didn’t take very kindly to Price ripping his coach and shot back at the big leaguer.
I like Fosnacht’s spunk, but I have to side with Price here. It was pretty irresponsible of the coach to leave the young pitcher on the mound that long.
194 pitches? That’s a Nolan Ryan pitch count. Well, you say, Nolan Ryan pitched forever in the big leagues with those high pitch counts, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that most people are not Nolan Ryan. Nolan Ryan was a freak. Maybe Dylan Fosnacht is a freak too, but odds are that he is just mortal.
Odds are that if Dylan Fosnacht keeps throwing that many pitches, his arm will totally die on him when he hits about 20 or 21. When the kid is that age, if he’s lucky enough to be pitching professionally, and he finds out he needs a surgery that will put him on the shelf for a year or more?
Let’s see if he still feels like defending the coach that let him throw 194 pitches in one outing.