Throwing guru says pandemic, higher velocities behind more pitching injuries


SAN DIEGO – The plight of the Padres pitching staff has reached pervasive proportions. It has the Friars effectively limping to the finish as they try to hold onto a National League playoff spot.

The latest injury came Wednesday when Jake Arrieta left his first start with the team in the fourth inning due to a hamstring injury.

As of this week, San Diego has no fewer than 17 pitchers on baseball’s injured list, including would-be starters Yu Darvish, Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack.

But are they cursed? Local pitching guru Tom House says the Padres are not alone in their pitching woes.

House, who has studied the art of pitching for more than 40 years, said baseball is in a transition phase “where the old rules don’t quite apply to what’s being asked out of pitcher’s arms right now.”

“Traditionally, three things keep an arm healthy: mechanical efficiency, functional strength and workloads,” he said. “Inside that process, pitchers, they prepare, they compete and they recover to repeat the whole process. Never before have so many kids thrown so hard as they’re doing right now and I honestly believe the lead-in to this year with the pandemic and the abbreviated season and the lack of what what amounted to be adaptation from last year is causing all of these issues.”

Pitchers only are as strong as their weakest link, according to House. While some have seen their arms adapt well to the circumstances, “a hamstring, a lower back and an oblique hasn’t,” he said.

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) leaves the mound in the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“It’s gonna be figured out,” he said. “It’s just in the short term, everybody is paying their dues right now.”

So how can baseball fix the issue? House said it starts earlier on in life by throwing more.

“In my opinion, kids pitch too much (and) they don’t throw enough,” he said. “By the time I got into college and pro ball, I’d already thrown millions of throws, throwing rocks at my brother. We could play year-round and kids don’t do that anymore. they literally pitch and they specialize and that issue alone is causing adaptation problems.”

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