An Investigation: Joel Zumaya

February 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

(NOTE: Originally posted by myself at Bless You Boys. Go there for lots of great Detroit Tigers related content created by fans)

The news as of late has been nearly exclusively about Johnny Damon.  Frankly, I’m tired of that story (sign him already!).  So I decided to think of something pitching related to once again lend some insight into.  Looking over the Tigers roster I decided to investigate Joel Zumaya and the ever injured shoulder.

By investigation I mean I watched a few videos.

And by “ever injured shoulder” I mean I don’t expect Joel to have a long healthy Tigers career.

The “investigation” after the jump.


First some videos to observe:

And a video from for good measure.


First I’d like to explain to you guys a term commonly used within pitching mechanics and often used within the mechanics themselves.  The term is scapular loading.  The link takes you to a great article explaining the term while showing you the right and wrong way to do it.  I’m going to try and summarize what that says for you.

Basically it’s all about the shoulders (see the connection to Joel?).  Scapular loading essentially is that point within most pitching motions where the shoulder blades come together.  Scapular loading is not necessarily a bad thing.  As that article points out lots of successful pitchers do it and have long prosperous careers.  Randy Johnson is a guy who has done it right along with Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens.  And just because I like to use his name in my post’s, Justin Verlander does a good job as well.  Guys like Mark Prior and Billy Wagner do a pretty lousy job of loading their scapulars.

But what defines the proper way practice scapular loading?  Much like a lot of things involving the throwing arm in pitching, the elbow is a key indicator of whether the act is being performed right or wrong.  To keep it very simple:  If the elbow is below shoulder level at the moment of scapular loading, than it is being done correctly.  Anything else is wrong.

Now back to Big Bad Joel Zumaya.  He loads his shoulders in the bad way that Mark Prior does.  Not as extreme but like I said, anything other than the right way is inherently wrong.  Zumaya’s loading problem is hardly extreme.  But it causes him to walk a fine line with the strength of his shoulder.  Before that box fell on his shoulder there was a good chance that Joel would enjoy a pretty good baseball career and make his millions.  But what I fear is that the injury to Joel’s shoulder has caused him to permanently walk on the wrong side of that fine line.  Unless he either stops the practice all together or practices it properly, he will more than likely continue to have shoulder problems in his career.

Heres to hoping that he proves me wrong.  But than again, this is probably why we drafted Ryan Perry.


Entry filed under: Player Breakdowns. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Pitching Mechanics… The Magnus Effect…

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