What Justin Verlander blames for the ‘pandemic’ of MLB pitching injuries

Justin Verlander doesn’t think there’s any one factor in the “pandemic” of MLB pitchers suffering serious arm injuries.

After making a rehab start for the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate on Sunday, Verlander was asked about the years-long rash of pitching injuries by Ari Alexander, a reporter for NBC’s Houston affiliate.

“I think the game has changed a lot. It would be easiest to blame the pitch clock, [but] in reality you put everything together and everything has a little bit of influence,” Verlander said.

Justin Verlander spoke about the reasons he believes there is a 'pandemic' of pitcher injuries.
Justin Verlander spoke about the reasons he believes there is a ‘pandemic’ of pitcher injuries. AP

“The biggest thing is the style of pitching has changed so much. Everybody is throwing as hard as they possibly can and spinning the ball as hard as they possibly can. It’s hard to deny those results, obviously.”

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Verlander continued.

“How can you go out there and tell somebody not to do that when they’re capable of throwing 100 [miles per hour]?”

In just the past week, Guardians ace Shane Bieber suffered a season-ending injury and Braves ace Spencer Strider might be right there with him.

“I don’t have all the answers,” Verlander continued, tracing the velocity pressures on pitchers back to 2016 when MLB’s new baseballs “started flying out” of the ballpark.

Guardians ace Shane Bieber is out for the year.
Guardians ace Shane Bieber is out for the year. Getty Images

“That changed how I had to approach pitching,” Verlander said.

“You had to start approaching the batter like, ‘;I want a swing and miss. You can’t put the ball in play.’ “

Verlander made clear that he wasn’t making excuses because everyone is competing on a “level playing field,” but reiterated that the heightened mindset of having to blow it by batters has contributed to the pitching injuries.

“It’s unfortunate. I don’t how we rewind the clock. Maybe there’s some way to incentivize starting pitchers going deeper in games,” Verlander said.

He mentioned that he and Max Scherzer, who pitched together on the Mets last season, came up with one idea where teams lose their designated hitter if they pull the starting pitcher before hitting certain “milestones” like getting through the opposing lineup three times or throwing a given amount of pitches.

“I just hope that we don’t wait too long,” Verlander said.

“It’s a pandemic and it’s going to take years to work itself out.”


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