Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez to have Tommy John surgery

By Robby Sabo,
The epidemic continues

It's been reported that Miami Marlins young super star pitcher Jose Fernandez has a torn UCL and will miss the rest of the 2014 season. This injury will most likely require Tommy John surgery and baseball is buzzing.

The trend of young-stud pitchers going down with major injuries can only be described as scary. It is a gross epidemic and has all organizations on edge.

The starting pitching market in baseball is still the most valuable of all. If the price remains to high for these guys and they keep dropping like flies, could change be coming?

Within the last calendar year, baseball has lost many pitchers to season-ending Tommy John surgery: Matt Harvey, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen, Cory Luebke, Patrick Corbin, Bruce Rondon, Jameson Taillon, Matt Moore and A.J. Griffin, according to CBS Sports. Most of these pitchers are considered top pitching prospects and all are in their early 20s.

What's interesting is the age at which these players experience Tommy John surgery. It seems once they get past your first four or five seasons in the big leagues, then they are in the clear.

Nobody knows this more than the Atlanta Braves as the team has seen eight of their pitchers go down in the past four years, notes ESPN.

Why is this happening?:

Well don't ask any old-time baseball fans this one, because the randomness of some of their responses are entertaining. It seems prior to the past decade or so, pitchers lasted longer. They threw more pitches and didn't feel the hurt.

Over time the starting pitcher role has become babied. The 100 pitch mark is this magical threshold in today's game that some managers feel allergic to.

Some theorize that the role of starting pitcher has become the equivalent of "flame-thrower." Unlike old-time pitchers who "paced" themselves for the entire game (frequently pitching complete games), the new starting-pitcher role is a "specialist" who throws less pitches and throws harder each pitch.

The specialization of the pitching staff (starter, middle-reliever, setup man, closer) could be play a huge role.

The constant "babying" of minor-league pitchers is another theory. Most big-league clubs now practice strict season-pitch count limits for their young commodities. Could this be counter-productive for their career?

In addition to the constant "babying," specialization as a young kid growing up is yet another cause for concern. Most of our elders played multiple sports growing up. Being a multiple sport athlete was a huge source of pride. Nowadays, kids are specializing in one sport in hopes to increase their full-potential. If the pitch-numbers for kids (before entering Minor Leagues) is higher than we've ever seen, shouldn't that be the top culprit?

The truth is, once guys like Fernandez and Harvey have Tommy John Surgery and get back on the field after 12 months, they will return to their normal dominant ways. Tommy John is a very successful term. Realizing that these pitchers can drop like flies at any time is a major issue though. It's one problem that baseball (or any other sport for that matter) has yet to solve.



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