The Guardians ace's devastating injury continues to unsettle the MLB trend


MLB has a pitching problem.

On Saturday, the Cleveland Guardians announced that starting pitcher Shane Bieber will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. He is the latest in a long list of players to miss time while recovering from the procedure.

On April 4, Eury Pérez became the Marlins' second starting pitcher to miss the season due to Tommy John surgery, joining 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, who underwent the surgery in October.

Red Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito had surgery in March, while Rays pitcher Shane McClanahan and Rangers pitcher Jacob deGrom had surgery last year and won't be available until later this season.

Data suggests the biggest reason for the number of UCL injuries is not the pitch clock implemented in 2023, but rather the league's increasing emphasis on speed.

According to Baseball America, the average four-seam fastball has increased from 91.9 mph in 2008 to 94.2 mph in 2023.

Tom Verducci reported for Sports Illustrated last May that the number of 100 mph throws increased from 1,056 in 2019 to a whopping 3,348 in 2022. Verducci said succinctly: “It is no coincidence that as speed increases, so do injuries.”

While the increase in pitching speed has made hitting more difficult, the same cannot be said about yardage.

According to Baseball Reference, batters in 2008 averaged .265 and teams scored an average of 4.65 runs per game. Last season, the hitters had a .248 batting average but scored 4.62 runs per game.

The way teams use pitchers is not only unsustainable, but it also has limited impact on scoring.

Maybe one day teams will wake up and realize that the damage done to pitchers far outweighs the rewards on the field.