Yankees’ Gerrit Cole Scolds ‘Shortsighted’ MLB for Injury Dismissal

Gerrit Cole

Getty Gerrit Cole walks off the mound.

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has a bone to pick with the MLB

The three-time AL Cy Young Award winner was quoted by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner in an April 8 article, addressing the MLB’s April 6 statement asserting that the pitch clock is not a contributing factor to pitcher arm injuries.

Cole said of the statement, “When I read the response from MLB, I didn’t think it was very thorough. To be able to say you implement something in one year and it has no effect is shortsighted.

“We are really going to understand the effects of what the pitch clock is maybe five years down the road,” Cole continued. “But to dismiss it out of hand, I didn’t think it was helpful for the situation.”

The MLB’s statement that Cole was responding to was rebuttal to one released by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) earlier on April 6.

The MLBPA blamed the MLB pitch clock in their initial statement for the increase in pitcher arm injuries seen in recent years.

Cole is currently on the 60-day injured list due to right elbow inflammation. He intends to return on June 1, and (thankfully) avoided the need for Tommy John surgery.

Although his teammate, Jonathan Loaisiga, can’t say the same. 

According to ESPN, Cole went on to say that he was “disheartened” by the MLB and MLBPA’s contradicting statements. 

“I’m just frustrated it’s a combative issue,” Cole said. “It’s like, ‘OK, we have divorced parents and the child’s misbehaving and we can’t get on the same page to get the child to behave.’ Not that the players are misbehaving, but we have an issue here and we need to get on the same page to at least try and fix it.”

The MLB’s Arm Injury Issue

The Yankees’ Cole isn’t the MLB’s only injured ace. 

Cleveland Guardians stud Shane Bieber is getting Tommy John surgery on April 12. Atlanta Braves standout Spencer Strider has a strained UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) and will likely miss over a year. So will Miami Marlins pitcher Eury Perez.

Not to mention other elite pitchers like Shohei Ohtani, Jacob DeGrom, Lucas Giolito, Walker Buehler, and many others are also missing extended periods of time due to arm injuries suffered over the past year. 

There’s no doubt that the MLB is experiencing a pitcher injury epidemic. But is the pitch clock to blame?

The MLB’s April 6 statement has a Johns Hopkins study proving that it isn’t. Yet, as Cole alluded to, it certainly isn’t helping matters, either. 

If it’s Not (Just) the Pitch Clock, Then What?

The Ringer‘s Ben Lindbergh wrote an April 2 article about the MLB’s influx of arm injuries. Lindbergh asked Dr. Glenn Fleisig, biomechanics research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute and injury research adviser for MLB, what he believes are causing all these arm injuries.

“Fleisig says there are three main injury risk factors for pitchers: effort (which manifests as velocity), volume of pitching, and mechanics.” Lindbergh wrote.

“People are trying to pitch as hard as possible, as fast as possible, is the new factor,” Fleisig said, adding that of the three risk factors, “velocity is now the number one.”

Unfortunately, baseball’s obsession with velocity isn’t going anywhere. Neither is the pitch clock. Therefore, the pitcher arm injury epidemic seems here to stay. 

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