MLB Week in Review (May 3-9)

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The MLB is fast becoming a pitchers league as the dead ball era has returned and pitchers are taking over. The offence has taken a dive since the steroid era and teams are always trying to find the players that can break this apart. There are still the teams that have a good offence but those teams can be shut down by a better pitcher. That makes pitchers the most valuable asset to any team as teams are all trying to find that true ace. They are looking for the pitcher that can change a game or the pitcher that can take the mound and is a guaranteed win. Without a solid pitching staff it is impossible to win in the MLB and that means much more than just one good pitcher as it is about continuing to throw great pitchers at good hitters and winning the battle over a series. So when a team has to put so much concentration on one position the focus on that position and the pressure in that position increases. Pitchers are a valued commodity in baseball and in many instances they are treated almost like museum pieces. Teams put pitching counts on their pitchers in the hopes that they do not wear out their arms and hurt themselves. The motion of pitching is unnatural to the human arm and it will always put a lot of stress on the muscles and ligaments of the arm. That is why the most prevalent thought in the major leagues is to reduce that arm stress by reducing the amount of pitches that a pitcher throws. Yet still with that attitude surrounding the MLB the amount of arms that have been taken off of rosters and put onto the operating table has continued to rise. Before the 2000s Tommy John Surgery was a rarely heard of procedure and was considered a risky one for pitchers. First done in 1974 the procedure is meant to repair a pitcher’s UCL in their elbow by taking a tendon from another part of the body, generally the forearm or the leg, and putting it in place of the injured UCL. When it was first done the likelihood of recovery was very slim, 1 in 50 for Tommy John, but since the procedure has continued on the recovery is much better and only takes a pitcher out for a season. As the procedure was used more often throughout the 1990s the teams in the MLB began to see it as a viable option to save a pitcher after a major injury. Before Tommy John a pitcher would blow out their arm and essentially be thrown away as they would never get back. Now a young pitcher can throw his arm out and have Tommy John surgery only to return the next year without missing much of a step. The problem now is that a career saving injury has almost become the thing to do for pitchers as the number of surgeries has steadily climbed throughout the last decade. It has become the solution for an arm injury despite the potential for some injuries to be rehabbed. Instead they cut into the arm of a young pitcher, when there is still a chance that the pitcher may not recover, and hope that he can return to form. It is a scary trend in baseball as Tommy John Surgery has become the thing to do for young pitchers and although the surgery has gotten better with less recovery time and less risk there is still a risk as with any surgery. That risk seems to be worth it to major league teams but it shouldn’t be as surgery should always be the last option and not the first when dealing with young pitchers. Without even stepping foot into major leagues pitchers are already one surgery in and they are one bad pitch away from having a second and with every surgery the chances of returning become worse. It is a terrible trend in baseball and one that seems to only be growing as the number of surgeries continues to climb and has no sign of dropping.

 

Extra Innings
(Extra Thoughts on this week in baseball)

Another Close Call
Yu Darvish has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game but he has yet to pitch a no-hitter although he has come close twice with the latest coming this week after he threw 9 2/3 innings before allowing a hit and ending the no-hit bid

Torre’s Number Retired
The New York Yankees have had their share of greats and they will add yet another legend to the rafters when they retired the #6 of legendary manager Joe Torre who would lead the Yankees to 4 World Series Championships

The Stolen Base Race
Dee Gordon would steal his 20th base this year and although that doesn’t put him in the level of Ricky Henderson it does put him at the top of the league far ahead of the rookie sensation Billy Hamilton who was expected to be the leader this year

standings_w6

Key Scores:
Chicago Cubs 3 – 0 St. Louis Cardinals
– The old school rivalry does not have the same bite to it but they are still fighting for the Midwest and this game would surprise many as the usually strong Cards would lose to the usually lowly Cubs

San Francisco Giants 11 – 10 Pittsburgh Pirates (13th)
– In the era of pitchers the offence does make itself known every now and then and that would be the case in this game as the Pirates and the Giants went back and forth exchanging runs until Hunter Pence scored on a throwing error

Chicago Cubs 12 – 5 Chicago White Sox
– The battle of the Windy City would go again as the Cubs and the Sox faced off in a classic rivalry with the Cubs coming out on top in a game that would see them show their offensive might against the crosstown opponents

San Francisco Giants 3 – 1 Los Angeles Dodgers
– The Giants and Dodgers continue to fight in the division and although the Dodgers have fallen out of the division race for now there is no doubt that both teams will end up fighting for the division in the end with the Giants taking one shot

 

Next Week:
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Sunday May 11th; 8:05 pm ET)
– The Cards are at the top of the division while the Pirates are trying to get back in a battle that was between two of them for the last few years as they continue their season long fight with the Pirates trying to get back to the top

New York Mets vs. New York Yankees (Monday May 12th; 7:05 pm ET)
– The Subway Series gets underway as the Yankees host the Mets for the first time this year with the Yankees at the top of their division and the Mets near the bottom of theirs looking to climb back into the fight

Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros (Wednesday May 14th; 8:10 pm ET)
– The Texas rivalry is as expected as the Astros continue to struggle despite a great start to the year while the Rangers are in the fight for the top of the division and the Astros are looking to climb back up into the fight

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs (Friday May 16th; 2:20 pm ET)
– The Brewers have come out to a very strong season start as they sit at the top of the division after a few terrible season and they will look to continue their dominance of the division when they take on the Cubs who have been known to surprise a few teams this year

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