LA Angels fans as you can see with my title I’m trying to make light of a serious situation. Starter Alex Meyer who has pitched very well as of late is the most recent injury to befell Angels pitchers. Meyer’s diagnosis is back spasms.
Meyer has won two of his last three starts lowering his ERA from 9.39 to 5.79 for the LA Angels who needed a lift once starters Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs both went down with injuries that will sideline them at least until after the All-Star Break.
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Meyer’s injury is not expected to keep the six foot nine inch pitcher on the disabled list for very long, but he is still expected to miss at least two starts. In his absence Daniel Wright will get another spot start after his last one went very well when he shutout the Toronto Blue Jays for five innings back in late April. Doug Fister, who was just signed last week to provide depth to the Angels pitching staff is not ready to pitch on a regular basis just yet.
Unfortunately this tune has become too familiar over the past two seasons as a total of six Angel starting pitchers have spent time on the disabled list including Richards and Skaggs who are now there for a second time in two years.
This begs the question WHY?
I spoke with retired Angels pitcher Clyde Wright, who is currently a part of the Angels community relations department about this very thing during the middle of last season. Wright didn’t claim to know the right answer, but he has some theories that make sense.
"“If I knew the answer to that question I would have an office somewhere that I would open up and be making a whole lot of money,” said Wright when asked about the multitude of pitchers who have gone on the DL due to UCL tears and other arm injuries. “Now this is only my opinion, but I have two reasons for this happening so much. First is the amount of weights today’s players lift. When you put muscle on top of muscle and throw a baseball sooner or later something has got to go.”“The second reason for this I believe is when these kids are little they just play too much baseball. They are in little league and winter ball, and then travel ball which is too much. Also most of these kids play just one sport so they never get to take break from baseball,” said Wright who pitched for eight years in the majors as well as three seasons in Japan. ” A lot of us old-timers played two or three different sports such as football and basketball which uses different muscles and helps to keep your body in tune. We definitely need to study this more.”"
Wright’s theories are both very interesting and I think they have a lot of validity to them. With the epidemic of pitchers being lost for part or all of the season happening on a regular basis I truly think that it would behoove Major League Baseball to look into this further.
The second theory of Wright’s talking about kids pitching too many innings when they are younger is a big issue. Most little leagues and high school leagues have either a pitch count limit per week or at the very least an innings limit.
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However, if a kid is on both a little league team or a school team as well as a travel ball team a player may meet their pitch count or innings limit on one team, but still pitch more innings for another team within the same week.
College coaches are now much more careful with young pitchers as are many major league teams who restrict young pitchers to innings limit in their first couple of seasons. The problem with this is that damage has already been done when they were younger so these restrictions only help to a point.
Meyer himself has had arm injuries in his past. Last season when the Angels acquired him from Minnesota in late July he had been shut down for almost four months with arm issues. Meyer was able to bounce back and pitch five games in September for the Angels. Hopefully this recent back injury is not a warning sign to a bigger problem.
Heal quickly Alex we need you back as soon as you are helping.