Tigers starter Justin Verlander has never spent a day on the disabled list in his major league career, logging 30 or more starts in every season dating back to 2006. He stands out in a time when a serious elbow or shoulder injury seems like an inevitable part of every pitcher’s career.
Verlander has a theory on that. Via ESPN’s Jayson Stark:
“I think baseball coddles guys so much now that you delay the inevitable. I think the reason you see so many big leaguers blowing out at a young age is because they would have done it before. But now teams limit pitch counts so much, even at the major league level, that now a guy in his second or third year will pop, when it would have happened in the minors.
“Before,” he continued, “when there wasn’t such an emphasis on pitch counts, I think you kind of weeded that out. Then guys would have surgery [in the minor leagues]. Then they’d come back. And then they’d get to the big leagues.”
Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the research director at Dr. James Andrews’ American Sports Medicine Institute, disagrees with Verlander’s theory, suggesting that poor mechanics and pitching while fatigued are the culprits. He said, “I have tremendous respect for Justin Verlander. You and I are not Justin Verlander. We’ve never thrown 200 innings in the major leagues, or even one inning. So he has a different perspective than we have. But I also have a different perspective. I have science.”
As far as Verlander’s theory goes, it certainly doesn’t apply to Yu Darvish. He threw 200-plus innings in four out of his last five seasons in Japan but still succumbed to season-ending Tommy John surgery.