While the MLB's new pitch clock rule shaved the average time of games by 24 minutes and received rave reviews from fans and players alike, one future Hall of Fame inductee believes it also caused his injuries.
In a recent interview with Foul Territory TV, Max Scherzer — three-time Cy Young Award winner, eight-time All Star, and two time World Series champion (including in 2023 with the Texas Rangers) — said, "[Dr. Keith Meister] saw that the elbow injuries this year were just way more severe. If you look at all the data that came across the game, that the pitcher injuries, arm injuries, they're on the high end, but the severity of the injuries are much more problematic."
Scherzer — who dealt with a shoulder injury late in the regular season and suffered back spasms in Game 3 of the 2023 World Series — went on to convey his belief as to why these severe injuries were occurring.
"It makes you start scratching your head," Scherzer said. "What's unique to 2023 here? When you make the game go faster ... as a pitcher, your form gets fatigued faster. For starting pitchers that are trying to pitch 100 pitches, you're trying to combat that fatigue ... and that's a very plausible reason for the severity of elbow injuries."
Scherzer did also note that there are multiple factors as to why a pitcher could get hurt and the pitch clock perhaps just exacerbates those factors.
While Scherzer's sentiment makes sense on the surface, the fact that the minor leagues have been using the pitch clock for years without a noticeable uptick in arm injuries — not to mention that pitchers in the 20th century worked much faster on the mound than in the last several years, even without a pitch clock — suggests that perhaps the pitch clock isn't the issue here.
What we know for sure is that pitching is an inherently unnatural (and unhealthy) motion for a human arm to undergo, especially when done repeatedly hundreds of times every day for years on end. Plus, MLB pitchers are throwing harder than ever, and that added torque has been proven to cause additional stress for the arm — resulting in more injuries.
So while there's a chance Scherzer could be on to something, pitcher arm injuries have been, still are, and will continue to be an unavoidable part of baseball — with or without the pitch clock rule. Considering all the good that the pitch clock did for baseball in 2023, one pitcher's concerns about the clock causing his injuries isn't a good enough reason to abandon the new rule.
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