By David Little – @DLittleMLB
I would like to start this article off by saying that I am a fan of the Chris Sale trade. Maybe I will write another article explaining that, but for now I simply want to talk about something that came up in conversation, something that I thought of, but never really dove into: Chris Sales’ mechanics and how they cause me a bit of fear for his long term health. I have heard many times that he is not built for the long haul, and kind of accepted that word of mouth, but now that he is a part of the fold, I want to dig in deep to why people think that is.
A study called “Correlation of throwing mechanics with elbow valgus load in adult baseball pitchers” published by Am J Sports Med in 2009 basically starts off by pointing out that sidearm pitchers display a much higher level of Valgus torque then their overhand pitcher buddies. Valgus torque is not good. It leads to more torque on the elbow ligaments, and when you are throwing 100 pitches at 96+ a game, this will obviously correlate with breakdown of the elbow ligaments, which are also directly related to the forearm musculature. This is something Sale has had issues with in the past.
But science aside, if you YouTube “slow motion Chris Sale” it’s not hard to speculate that Chris is poised for issues. He cocks his elbow behind him when he throws, and in a twisting motion (that I just tried and feels very uncomfortable) he almost sling shots the ball towards home. Chris knows how to throw a ball, don’t get me wrong! However, as a tall (6’6) and lanky (180 lbs) pitcher I just fear that his mechanics will not hold up long term.
Time and time again we see guys going out with these elbow injuries. Yes, they can recover as they have Tommy John almost perfected at this point, but I guess with Chris I am hoping that we don’t have to deal with a big injury. Knock on wood, but his injury potential scares me. He offers a ton of insurance to guys in our rotation, as he will help to be a part of our big three and wear down teams this season, especially if any playoff runs come up (read: when we make the playoffs). So far so good, with a couple of foot injuries, but this fan is hoping he can continue his health trend. Either way, this is the best rotation we have ever seen, and I am excited for what he can bring to this team. It will be a great year, and let’s hope everything comes together.