It was days ago that Jayson Stark wrote a marvelous piece on Kris Medlen, and he soon was down, out for a year, year-and-a-half. Then Brandon Beachy. Seattle will open the season without Taijuan Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma on the DL and no one knowing if and when Danny Hultzen will ever pitch.
Then the Diamondbacks, with eveready Bronson Arroyo’s back cranky, lost their opening day starter Pat Corbin to Tommy John Surgery, Jonathon Niese walked off a mound…Where would the Orioles be with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy?…Would the Mets be a wild card play-in contender with Matt Harvey?…
And the Oakland Athletics, everyone’s pick in the American League East, found out Jarrod Parker may need TJ Surgery and AJ Griffin is hurting. “It is,” Billy Beane said Sunday, “an epidemic, and a huge problem for the industry. We have to study where it traces to.”
Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Glenn Fleisig will immediately point to the use and abuse on the youth levels, from the maxed-out showcases to college coaches who care about their own resumes, not their student-athletes. Dr. Andrews and Dr. Fleisig have astounding studies about the number of surgeries performed before young men reach professional baseball, and can address how Parker and Beachy and Medlen can all be looking at multiple Tommy John Surgeries before they turn 30.
So when agents and the media rant about the fairness of five and six year contracts for pitchers in their thirties, consider that roughly 30 to 33% of pitchers’ salaries are paid while on the Disabled List, and one estimate is that nearly 30% of all the total dollars paid to pitchers go to time on the DL.
At a recent SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, it was stated that 40% of starting pitchers will spend time on the DL in any season, 20% of relievers.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin, defending the signing of Matt Garza despite reports that the Cubs and Rangers would no clear his medicals, said “67 percent of all free agent pitchers spend time on the DL.”
The SABR Analytics Conference spent time studying the wellness of young pitchers. In fact, wellness should be a significant focus for the industry, from free agency back to the Babe Ruth League.
Attached are excellent articles by Matt Eddy of Baseball America and Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs, which makes one ask: if the cost of starting pitching continue to rise, can and will any small or medium market be able to afford keeping their own pitchers past the age of 30?
If and when a third of all pitchers’ salaries finance the Disabled List, it is worth studying. Medlen, Beachy, Parker, Corbin…