Saturday, February 21, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: Bummer Dude!

I commented on Bumgarner's situation and wanted to share it here.  Plus, it did not survive moderation, for some reason, the website is now moderating, and yet a clearly spammy comment was allowed to be posted publicly, as well as a variety of stupid types of comment.  If there is a size limit, then they should just do that.  And there is nothing below that is about any other comment, it is my own thoughts.

ogc thoughts

I understand the worry about Bumgarner. And what else can he say other than everything is fine, he's raring to go. The proof will come once he's on the field and we see how he performs.

But I'm not that worried about Bumgarner, other than that he is a pitcher and pitchers eventually have injuries. When Madison came up, he marveled at how little MLB pitchers threw between starts. He said then that he would cut back on his throwing in order to save strength for the actual games, but from what I've seen of him in public, I would bet that he still throws a lot more pitches than any other MLB pitcher around.

So if there is any pitcher who can throw nearly 300 IP today (remember, there were many pitchers in the past who threw 300 IP regularly, in the regular season only, and never had any issues, because their arms were prepared for it), it's Bumgarner.  And while threw over 4,000 pitches, Lincecum threw even more pitches in 2010 and was OK in 2011 (though, it should be noted, not OK since 2012, though apparently that's because he hasn't been working with his dad since 2009 season).

At least that's the theory that the Braves former pitching coach, Mazzone, learned from an old pitcher, and which he used with his pitchers under his charge. He taught that pitchers need to throw a lot more, in-between starts, to build up the muscles to handle the overall strain of pitching in games and thus suffer less injuries.

And I believe that. Muscles need to be built up to handle the workload. A slovenly guy like me can't just join an MLB team and throw a full season's worth of pitches, I would need to build up to that (that and somehow having the ability to throw 90+ MPH). That was Bill James very public rebuttal in his book on pitching to the PAP nonsense that BP was pushing, about 10 years ago.

The CYA pitchcount culture has done a lot of damage to our game by encouraging pitchers to not build up their muscles throwing. They treat every throw as the same thing. But I just read an article that showed that it was MLB pitches that affect player's injury history, not minor league pitches, Will Carroll found no connection, there is something about pitching in the majors that start to wear on arms. But the pitchcount mantra makes it seem like if you force your kid to throw more often, it would be abuse.

But there is no way to really prove things either way, and it makes some sense that throwing less saves your arm, so the pitchcount hegemony will undoubtedly take over all of baseball. So the scare tactics of PAP and pitchcounts will continue even though there is no evidence that there was any linkage between the two. Hopefully our game will be able to survive this.

What would be great would be to hear what Dick Tidrow has to think about pitchcounts, how to build up pitcher's arms properly, and things like that related to pitching. If I hear that he's for pitch counts, then I would reconsider my opinions and stance.

5 comments:

  1. Unless there is some underlying muscle disease, I do not think the main problem with some pitchers tossing many innings ala Gaylord Perry or Juan Marichal, the main problem with many pitchers is with their tendons and ligaments. Some folks have very strong and resistant to injury types of ligaments and tendons and others do not. Certainly easy throwing with less stress on the arm, elbow, shoulder could diminish much of that injury but many pitchers today knowingly stress their tendons and ligaments to get everything they can on their pitches. Pitch counts are probably important for many pitchers. Remember when Bumgarner came up, he lost some velocity and it worried the giants. It seems it was more due to mechanics than muscle or integument tissue injury.

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    1. I readily admit that I'm no doctor. I never took physio, don't know the body parts. What you say about body parts seems to make sense, though.

      Pitch counts is more important today for many pitchers, not, in my mind, because of health, but because of how good relievers are today. In the past, relievers were who managers went to because their better pitchers started breaking down. Today, relievers are who managers go to because they are much better than the starting pitchers.

      And part of the reason relievers are that much better is, in my opinion, because starting pitchers today are babied in terms of their arm usage. We would not sit here today if Bumgarner had babied his arm. All the rules on pitcher management says that you don't jump so many innings in one season, and Madison broke that hard in 2010 (and probably other seasons too), and he pitched key innings in 2012 and clearly we do not win in 2014 if he don't pitch. He threw a lot in between starts back then and probably still do to an extent.

      And yes, his loss in velocity was due to his lack of knowledge about his mechanics. He noted that before joining the Giants, he had no idea what his mechanics were when he was going well, but that the Giants taught him his right mechanics.

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  2. Good article OGC. I think the Giants do a very good job with building up innings in the minors, and pitchers who can hack MLB need to get their pitches in. While I wouldn't want a bunch of 125 pitches in a row, I don't think going deep here and there is a big deal. As far as Bumgarner... he's strong as an ox. Let him do his thing. I would love to hear what Tidrow has to say.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I know you are busy too, being a good father!

      Yeah, I wouldn't want a lot of heavy load either in short bursts like that. But I don't think abuse (which is the way BP defines it) magically happens at 100 pitches. I think the greater danger happens on how many pitches the pitcher throws in the season. I think Bumgarner is in what I would call the "danger zone". However, because he takes care of his arm differently than other pitchers, I'm not as worried about as I was about Cain (who had a history of elbow issues) or Lincecum (who frankly is a smaller guy).

      And thanks for mentioning "strong as an ox", as I had meant to include something about that too. The words I would use are ones I've seen used on good pitchers in the past: these pitchers are called "country strong".

      There is something about farm boy types (and honestly, I don't know what Bumgarner did in his youth, though I don't think he worked on a farm, but he does own one now and my assumption is that he worked on somebody's farm growing up and by his buying a farm with his bonus - and his wive a calf as a gift - and lassoing that bull statue in his first stay at the Arizona Instructional facility, I concluded that he's a farm boy type, plus look at the way he is built!) that seem to make them strong as an ox: Bob Feller, Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, and I'm sure there are others, but they came to mind quickest.

      Yeah, I wish one of our beat writers would just corner Tidrow and get him talking about pitching. I'm sure it would be one of the most fascinating articles ever.

      There could be one out there that I don't know about, but I've kept pretty close to the Giants boards and media, plus baseball media, over the years, so I think I would have ran into it if there was one, but I know I haven't read everything out there. For example, from checking around, I saw the SI article about Lincecum's renewed relationship with his dad last November, months ago, and was able to talk to that when discussing his chances for 2015, but the main Giants media didn't get to that hot tidbit until spring training opened up.

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  3. While I don't see pitch counts as an end-all, be-all - neither do I think workloads are the issue either.
    Pitchers that I saw in the 80s and 90s tended to not throw anywhere near their maximum - whereas pitchers these days do it nearly every pitch. I wonder if this is a trend or merely my subjective experience, but I do believe that a pitch at maximum effort is very different than a pitch at 80% or even 90% effort. While there definitely are exceptional pitchers like Nolan Ryan, most of the old time, high innings pitchers were spitball/knuckleball types or else lasted only 5 years or less.
    I'd also note that - as the other commenter noted - injuries are tendon related, not muscle related. Tendons don't grow in strength in proportion to muscles; when I used to go to the gym, it was a not unusually uncommon phenomenon where individuals who used steroids and pushed development very fast would have tendons detach in the midst of a peak exercise. The unquestionably increasing strength of pitchers due to modern strength building and maintenance techniques would logically point to greater strain on tendons.
    As for Bumgarner - the main point in his favor is that he is simply a very large person. Much like Verlander, Bumgarner is a very tall, heavily built person - which in turn suggests the tendons involved are simply proportionately larger than a smaller individual.
    However, as we are seeing with Verlander now, decline will still occur. The good news is that Verlander is 32 while Bumgarner is 25. However, while Verlander had 8 seasons of 200 innings pitched vs Bumgarner's 4 1/2, Bumgarner has had 3 long post-season stretches with the last one being particularly strenuous.
    From a kinetic standpoint, Bumgarner throws a lot lower velocity than Verlander, but equally he has a different pitch angle.
    Net net - I'd guess there wouldn't be too much to worry about right away, but I would not be at all surprised if there weren't some effects from a heavy work load, not too soon into the future.

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