Pittsburgh Pirates

In a Season Full of Elbow Injuries, Pittsburgh Pirates Keeping Arms Healthy

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) walks to the dugout after being pulled in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh Saturday, May 10, 2014. The Pirates won 4-3. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Ryan GauleCorrespondent IMay 17, 2014

Over the last few seasons, we have seen the emergence of a number of young pitching prospects in Major League Baseball.

Unfortunately, 2014 has been the year of torn ulnar collateral ligaments, resulting in season-ending Tommy John surgery for a lot of those young stars.  

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, 18 pitchers have had the procedure done on their arms in 2014. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has "formed committees to study the epidemic," per Nightengale.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the first teams affected by the procedure in 2014, when top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon underwent the operation in early April. At the major league level, however, the Pirates have been blessed with healthy arms.  

According to Fox Sports, Pittsburgh has had just one player, reliever Stolmy Pimentel, land on the 15-day disabled list with an arm injury. Pimentel was placed on the shelf on May 2 with right-shoulder inflammation.  

Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is the latest pitcher to be shut down for the season with a torn UCL.
Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is the latest pitcher to be shut down for the season with a torn UCL.Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

Other than that, the Pirates have not been burdened by arm problems at the major league level in 2014.

In fact, Pittsburgh has seen how the surgery can positively affect a pitcher's ability to pitch again.  

Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez had the best year of his career in 2008 when he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds. The following season, he found himself in the operating room after tearing a ligament in his throwing arm.  

Volquez was outstanding in 2008 with the Reds, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA.
Volquez was outstanding in 2008 with the Reds, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA.Al Behrman/Associated Press

Volquez has never returned to his old form, but he has shown in 2014 that he looks completely healthy, giving the Pirates a solid No. 5 starter.  

Now, it goes without being said that the Pirates have had their fair share of injuries early on, but luckily those injuries did not concern pitchers' arms (with the exception of Pimentel).  

The Pirates staff is very fortunate that they have not been bitten by the injury bug, considering they are off to a 17-23 start to the season.

According to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, when asked about staying healthy, Volquez said "We just have to to do it all season long, for the team and for myself."

As long as their pitchers stay injury-free, the Pirates should get hot, as they certainly have enough talent to make a run at one of the wild-card spots.


Statistics Courtesy of Baseball Reference

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