To evaluate whether impending shoulder injury was associated with changes in pitch location or velocity immediately preceding injury.
Pitchers placed on the injured list (IL) due to a shoulder injury between 2015 and 2020 were identified in the Major League Baseball transactions database. Four-seam fastball velocity and frequency of pitch location for each pitch type was collected for each player in the season before placement on the IL and within 1 month of placement on the IL with a minimum of 55 pitches thrown of 1 type. Pitch locations were collected as identified by Baseball Savant’s Game-Day Zones. Game-Day Zones were consolidated into high (above the strike zone midpoint) versus low, arm side (closer to the pitcher’s arm side of the plate) versus opposite side, and within the strike zone versus out of zone. Repeated measures analysis of variance determined differences in four-seam velocity and the location distribution of 4-seam fastballs, change-ups, and breaking balls among each group.
In total, 267 pitchers were placed on the IL for a shoulder injury with the majority diagnosed with inflammation (89/267) followed by strain or sprain (69/267). Four-seam fastball locations significantly increased above the mid-point of the zone (45.9% vs 42.4%, P = .008) and out of the strike zone (48.5% vs 46.5%, P = .011) within a month before IL placement. There was no significant change in 4-seam fastball velocity immediately before IL placement.
Pitchers threw more elevated 4-seam fastballs and out-of-zone 4-seam fastballs in the month before IL placement for shoulder injury. These findings suggest that a loss of 4-seam fastball command decreases with impending shoulder injury.
Level of Evidence
IV, prognostic case series.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Stone, Austin V.; Platt, Brooks N.; Collofello, Brandon S.; Sciascia, Aaron D.; Uhl, Timothy L.; and Kibler, William B., "More Elevated Fastballs Associated with Placement on the Injured List Due to Shoulder Injury" (2022). Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Faculty Publications. 36.