5 Keys to Keeping the Toronto Blue Jays Rotation Healthy in 2013

Matthew ApplebyContributor IISeptember 11, 2012

5 Keys to Keeping the Toronto Blue Jays Rotation Healthy in 2013

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    The multitude of Toronto Blue Jays pitchers going down to injury this season is not only concerning to the casual fan, but should also beg some questions as to why it is happening.

    There is a very obvious trend with these injuries that does not take the next coming of Sherlock Holmes to crack. Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutichson, Robert Coello and Luis Perez all have landed on the disabled list this season with elbow injuries. Does this mean there is some over training going on? A conditioning issue? Your guess is as good as mine.

    But then there are the injuries to Henderson Alvarez (shin), J.A. Happ (foot), Jason Frasor (forearm), Brandon Morrow (oblique) and Sergio Santos (shoulder) that offer no apparent explanation other than bad luck.

    Let’s be honest here, there is no quick fix to frequent injuries. There is no spell, potion, or energy drink that can save arms from the day-to-day rigors of pitching in the MLB.

    To say that there are certain “keys” to keeping a pitcher healthy is to insinuate that I somehow have one of these quick fixes. That is obviously not the case; these are just some options that the Blue Jays could look into.

Get a Number One Pitcher

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    Part of the injury problem could have been that the pitchers felt an immense amount of pressure to perform. By overworking themselves to meet their own demands, there is a chance that they were more likely to suffer an injury.

    If the Jays were able to acquire a top pitcher, the ripple effect down the rotation would pay huge dividends. Ricky Romero would be able to pitch without the weight of being the ace of the rotation, and the rest of the staff could pitch knowing they are just a few days away from a solid performance from one of their teammates.

    It’s not a sure fix, but it should definitely be a priority for the Jays in the offseason for a number of reasons.

Scheduling

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    For the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff to stay healthy, there needs to be some kind of system in place that will be a safeguard against overworking their young pitchers.

    Whether it is a 6-man rotation, limiting a pitcher’s innings per month or changing their spring training program, the organization needs to find a way to get the best out of their pitchers.

    By ensuring their players stay well rested and in peak condition, they will limit the risk of overuse and misuse injuries due to fatigue. There are always other factors contributing to injuries such as these but the Blue Jays would be smart to find a way to at least minimize the risk. 

Biomechanical Analysis

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    Biomechanics is the study of structure and function related to human movement and is an ever-growing with an increasing role in the world of sports. By using four cameras capturing 1,000 frames per second, the exact motion of a pitcher’s delivery can be analyzed for things that the human eye simply can’t catch in real time.

    Although the use of this technology is helpful, it is by no means a sure fire way to identify deviations in a pitcher’s rotation that would lead to an injury.

    The American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Alabama, founded by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, has been running these trials for two decades. Although the technology exists, few MLB teams use it.

    The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff was tested at the ASMI lab and have experienced a high degree of success this year on the diamond. It’s a small sample size, but maybe there is true benefit in running these tests.

    At the very least it should warrant some consideration.

Strength and Conditioning

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    As Chris Toman for MLB.com reported, Blue Jays Manager John Farrell does not believe the string of injuries to be an organizational issue. I am not here to dispute this fact, but there may be some changes that could be made.

    I am in no way close enough to the team to say definitively that the Blue Jays need to change any one specific aspect of their training program, but that is not to say it is perfect.

    Perhaps the pitchers were underworked during spring training? Or the training program they have been provided does not give enough weight to the importance of muscle-specificity training?

    There are a number of minor things that could have led to the onslaught of injuries to the Blue Jays pitching staff this year. This should be looked into as a possible step to keep the rotation healthy in 2013.

Be Lucky

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    Yes, this isn’t necessarily something the Blue Jays can actively do to save the health of their pitchers, but it is definitely a crucial part of it.

    The old adage, “you have to be lucky to be good, and good to be lucky” is no more applicable than in this situation.

    Obviously the Blue Jays can’t do much to ensure their luck next year, but bad luck definitely played a role in all the injuries they sustained this year. In order to stay healthy next year they will need to reverse their fortunes.

    Once again, there is no sure fire solution to a barrage of injuries but there are some options the Blue Jays should consider to proactively take action against a repeat of this season’s misfortunes.

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