First Month of Pitch Clock Baseball Saw Explosion in Pitching Injuries
By Kyle Koster
A month into the Major League Baseball and there's tremendous news to report. The pitch clock has made watching games on television so, so, so much more enjoyable. A rousing success. As for the in-person experience? Well, it hasn't been as great because two hours can really fly by for a father who brings the whole family and needs to stand in assorted lines and play in the concourse fun houses. But overall, the pace-of-play initiatives are yielding nice returns and going back to unlimited, untimed breaks in play is off the table forever. Which is perfectly fine.
There is one thing. It might be nothing. It might be a big thing.
Back in February, we laid out a potential worst-case scenario when it comes to the unintended consequences of players playing faster and with more ferocity than ever before.
Though this was tested in the minors last season and the data suggests such a concern be from the Chicken Little playbook, I remain concerned that pitchers working at this pace and batters swinging with such force before they are truly ready is a recipe for injury. One could argue that a few high-profile trips to the injured list as a result of the breakneck initiative could ultimately do more to hurt the game than benefit it. So I hope I am wrong on that point.
We spoke to a few of the best baseball minds on the planet and they were far less concerned about such a situation because it didn't arise when the clock was tested in the minors. So we sort of forgot about it until today when ESPN's Jesse Rogers revealed that, for some reason, April brought a historic jump in pitching injuries.
It's still a small sample size and determining the cause and effect is never going to be cut and dry. Hurlers throwing harder than ever is obviously a factor here. It sure seems like grouping those Herculean stresses closer together is also a dangerous game and a 26 percent spike is concerning.
We're getting pieces anointing this experiment as an enormous success already and, to be clear, there's a lot to like. It just seems important to keep an eye on this because maybe last year's minors results were the outlier and a pitch clock really does equate to more trips to the injured list. That would be a problem to be rectified.
No need to freak out yet. Also probably too early to flip the bat.