A fun little post, attempting to identify mechanical flaws that may have led to the eventual breakdown of a few current or former Mariner pitchers.
Ryan Anderson, the can't-miss prospect of our generation. Look at his hips and his shoulders in this picture - it's like they belong to two different people. His shoulders are still turning away from the plate while his hips have begun forward rotation. Weight is already shifting to his front foot while the ball is still behind his back, pointing at the shortstop. It's been said that Ryan was a pretty big guy, and his lower body was generating a lot of forward momentum before his upper body knew what was going on, forcing his arm to try and catch up with the rest of his body during delivery. As you can imagine, that puts a ton of pressure on the front of the shoulder. Makes sense that the guy wore out his labrum on more than one occasion.
It's also worth pointing out that over-rotating and leaving your pitching shoulder behind your body is a great way to be erratic. As Ryan brought the ball in an arc around from behind his back hip towards home plate, the inherent nature of physics dictates that the ball wants to fly out in a straight line at every point during delivery. This can be difficult to control (not to mention an unnecessary waste of energy) and leads to things flying open prior to and upon release. If anyone can be characterized as "effectively wild," it's Ryan Anderson in the minors, but still, it's difficult for anyone to sustain success when he's walking 5+ batters per nine.
Same problem, different pitcher. Gil's hips are already locked in and facing home plate well ahead of release. His knee, glove, and head are in good position, and he's generating good force towards the plate (I like the arched back), but his pitching shoulder is feeling a lot of that as it tries to bring his arm around quick enough to catch up. Also suffered a severe labrum injury. Probably not a coincidence.
Blackley's eyes are locked in, but that back elbow is a problem. Not only has Travis inwardly rotated his upper arm, but his throwing elbow is behind his shoulder line, which significantly increases the amount of pressure put on both the elbow and shoulder during acceleration. It's not even up for debate. Look at that, a third labrum victim.
It should also be pointed out that, while it's not evident in this picture, Blackley has a short stride that pushes his shoulder back upon release. Not only does this mean still more trouble for the shoulder, but it also leads to pitches sailing into the upper half of the strike zone. Remember how, when Guardado missed last year, it was always up and away to right-handed hitters? Same deal with Travis. Because of his stride, he has trouble pitching down in the zone, so it should come as no surprise that he's been anywhere from a moderate to extreme flyball pitcher throughout his career. And hey, just for good measure, I'm not real high on his follow-through, as it looks like he puts more stress on his elbow than you'd like. Good times.
Way too much looking towards the outfield bleachers for my tastes. Cloude's mechanics were frequently conducive to severe whiplash.
What's that, you say? More over-rotation? Another guy leaving his arm behind his body? Heaverlo's elbow is good - no problems there - but I've said it before and I'll say it again: forcing your pitching arm to play catch-up with the rest of your body puts a lot of stress on your shoulder as your trunk rotates to face the plate. Oh, gosh, a torn labrum. You'd think someone would notice a pattern here.
Good ol' confusing Dave Fleming. What happened? You guessed it. When you go to bed tonight, you're going to have nightmares about leaving your shoulder behind your body and hearing a "pop". Fleming reached way too far back with his pitching arm and put a lot of stress on his elbow and shoulder during his high-effort delivery. In addition, while it might just be the pictures, it looks like Fleming threw with sort of a whipping action and released the ball with a perfectly straight arm that didn't protonate very well during the follow-through. Given enough time, that's going to cause some trouble in the elbow. Which may very well be what happened to the guy, although a lot of it is guesswork, at this point.
Everybody's favorite reliever is still on the comeback trail after blowing out his elbow. And while he has better mechanics than most of these other guys, this picture is a little troubling - his elbow is high, above his shoulder line, and his hips and shoulders are already parallel to home plate with the ball still well behind his head. That implies a lot of late whipping action in his arm that, when you're talking about a guy who threw in the high-90s, really torques the elbow. I'm wondering if it's just the picture. A shame MLB.tv doesn't do a better job of archiving.