Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Trouble with Liriano

Francisco Liriano's on the Disabled List with an injured elbow.

Question 1:
Is the injury caused by overuse?

Answer 1:
Liriano's career high for innings pitched in a season came in 2005 when he threw 190.2 innings (combined minor and major league total). Prior to that, Liriano threw 156.2 innings in 2004. This season, Liriano has pitched 119.0 innings. While Liriano's workload this season alone has not been overly demanding, his innings pitched totals have risen every year of his professional career and Liriano was set to establish a new personal high this year.

Question 2:
Is the injury caused by bad mechanics?

Answer 2:
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson isn't going to admit this, but I think bad mechanics play a large role in Liriano's injury.

Here's some film of Liriano from YouTube.Com for reference:

As you watch the film clip, ask yourself the following questions. I've posted my answers with each question.

--Where is Liriano's throwing foot (his left) placed on the rubber?
Liriano places his throwing foot almost in the center of the pitching rubber. Most pitching coaches will teach their pitchers to position themselves on the rubber to the opposite of their throwing arm. For Liriano, his throwing foot should probably be positioned more closely to the right side of the rubber (facing home plate).

--Does Liriano ever reach a balance point in his motion?
The "balance point" is when the lead leg (his right) reaches its zenith in upward motion. If a pitcher stops his motion at the height of the leg's upward motion, he should be able to balance. Liriano never reaches a balance point.

--Does Liriano break his hands before or after his lead leg (his right) begins its downward motion?
Pitchers want to break their hands (separate their throwing hand from their glove) before they start the downward motion of their lead leg. If they break after, they risk their arm falling behind the motion of their body, which can lead to arm problems. Liriano breaks his hands after his leg begins to move downward.

--Does Liriano move his lead leg down-then-out or does he swing it open like a gate?
Proper pitching mechanics calls for Liriano to move his lead leg down-then-out. This motion keeps the pitcher's momentum in-line towards home plate and increases velocity while also lessening the chance for injury. Liriano swings his leg open like a gate by opening his hips instead of moving the lead leg down-then-out. This shifts his momentum towards third base and opens his hips too early, thereby stealing some of his power.

--Where does Liriano's plant foot (his right) land?
A pitcher's hips should be slightly opened to home plate when the lead leg (his right) lands. Liriano's plant foot lands inside of his body on impact, forching him to throw across his body in order to deliver the ball across the plate. This position puts more strain on the pitcher's arm, lead hip, and lead knee. And it costs the pitcher power. All negatives.

--Where does Liriano's momentum lead him during his followthrough?
A pitcher wants his momentum to take him directly to home plate, following the path of the ball, and allowing him to put all of his power behind the pitch. Liriano falls off to the third base side of the field during his followthrough.

Question 3:
Is the injury caused by a combination of overuse and bad mechanics?

I'm not trying to get anyone fired, but I would answer in the affirmative to this question. If the Twins can't get Liriano's mechanics figured out while also easing him into 200+ inning totals for a season, my guess is that Liriano won't have a very long MLB career at all.


Blogger Lunatic Biker said...

I agree that his mechanics aren't all that good. He finishes just kinda weird.

Fri Aug 11, 05:59:00 AM 2006


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