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Braves Starting Pitcher Thinks Reduced Pitch Clock Will Put Others At Risk

Spencer Strider isn’t keen on MLB reducing the pitch clock by two seconds this season. It doesn’t sound like much, but the Atlanta Braves ace wants the league to put the breaks on what the other pitchers believe will increase what he considers as the game’s “injury epidemic.” In 2023, 30 major league pitchers went under the knife for Tommy John surgery or similar elbow reconstructions. Shane McClanahan, Liam Hendriks, Sandy Alcántara and Jacob deGrom all succumbed to that.

“With injury rates where they are, I don’t know how we can blindly decrease the clock after the worst injury season in baseball, arguably, without having a conversation about injuries,” Strider told USA Today’s Gabe Lacques.

Spencer Strider Is Concerned by Reduced Pitch Clock

MLB’s pitch clock and other rule changes were a success in 2023. Games nearly shaved off 25 minutes off the average nine-inning game. In the offseason, the competition committee of MLB approved reducing the time on the clock from 20 to 18 seconds with runners on base; it remains 15 seconds with the bases empty. The pitch clock is considered one of the worst seasons for severe pitching injuries. Strider believes the increased injury risk to star pitchers will only serve to hurt interest in the game.

“The league talks about creating more action on the field,” Strider said. “Well, when the best players in the league are hurt, how much interest is there in the game?”

What the Orthopedic Community Says

They are trying to separate signal from noise in diagnosing blown-out arms. Be it from increased velocity, overuse, poor mechanics and other factors. Strider, who struck out a league-best 281 pitchers last season, believes one year of pitch clock data does not make adjusting it further downward worthwhile.

“There’s an injury epidemic in the game regardless of velocity,” Strider told USA Today Sports. “If anything, the league is making rule changes despite an injury epidemic that could very well encourage injuries. I think it will make health more difficult to manage.”

Report on 2023 Pitching Injuries

Glenn Fleisig, head of biomechanics research at American Sports Medicine Insititute, was part of a working group studying the pitch clock for MLB. He also sits on MLB’s research and medical group. He acknowledged that major league competition is different than anything else, and he is preparing a final report on 2023 pitching injuries.

“We’ve reviewed data from last year and the number of injuries to major league pitchers is in line with the trend from the last decade,” said Fleisig. “Last year, with the pitch timer, did not seem to bump the injury rate up or down.”

Fleisig added that arm injuries and velocity increases are roughly in lockstep.

“The chase for velocity certainly seems to be one of the factors. The injury rate increase in pitching pretty much mirrors or is the same as the increase in velocity. Pitchers themselves chase velocity as a ticket to move up. Teams chase velocity because faster is better. They’d rather have a guy pitch faster and have to replace them than pitch (with less velocity).”

Main Photo: © Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


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