The Arizona Diamondbacks put Madison Bumgarner on the injured list Monday afternoon, as he became the latest in a large group of pitchers suffering injuries. In just 18 days, the IL has been packed with 56 pitchers, in the latest sign that Major League Baseball rushed the start of the 2020 season.
This season has seen far more hurlers hit the injured list than in previous years. During the first 18 days of the 2019 season, 24 pitchers went down. In 2018, the number was 19. If we're looking at it logically there is only one major difference here: the time pitchers had to get ready for the season.
Before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the 2020 MLB season, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training around February 11. Opening Day was scheduled for March 26. That gave pitchers 44 days to prepare for the season.
After the COVID-19 shutdown and the lengthy negotiations to restart things, every player had to report by July 1. Opening Day for most teams was on July 24. That gave pitchers 23 days to ramp up and get ready to pitch.
Everything about the 2020 season had to be rushed, but preparations for pitchers are a delicate balance. They need to work enough to be ready for the season but not so much that they overtax their arms. Pitchers had three fewer weeks to prepare for the big stage and it's likely many simply weren't ready or strong enough to pitch in regular season situations. We're seeing the consequences now.
This is all just more evidence that the league and the players needed to get their negotiations for this season done sooner so there could have been a proper build-up to the season. The two sides wasted months trying to agree on a deal when it all could have been in place long before it was. The lack of preparations has now led to two outbreaks of COVID-19 and a litany of pitching injuries.
Don't expect this trend to end any time soon. Players are going to wear down having to play 60 games in 66 days. When that happens, injuries are likely to mount.