Blinded by Their Own

Before the Pirates latest contest against the Indians in Cleveland on Sunday, I decided to watch some MLB network and I was pleasantly surprised to see Joe Musgrove was going to be interviewed about being named the opening day starter for the Bucs.

Nothing revolutionary there I thought, but what the heck I wanted pumped up before the game a bit so I stuck around, here’s the interview if you want to listen for yourself.

https://www.mlb.com/video/musgrove-on-pitching-opening-day

Yeah, the interview was nice, and it was pretty cool seeing Joe call his dad to tell him the good news, but that wasn’t my main takeaway. No, my main pull from the interview was Joe talking about changing his arm action, because HE noticed his arm wasn’t recovering in between starts the way he needed it to. The change led to better recovery time, added velocity and more crisp finish on his breaking stuff.

Again, great, glad he’s able to find something that helped and his first start in Spring 2.0 remains one of the very few Pirates pitching bright spots thus far, but why did HE discover this?

You might ask yourself why this was on my mind, well I just finished listening to Dejan Kovacevic’s Daily Shot Podcast.

Listen here if you like, solid stuff. https://megaphone.link/ADV7250530218

Now the first half is about Mitch Keller, the bit that really spoke to me was the second half where Dejan gave some inside info from Kyle Crick. Put aside what you just saw from him, that’s not the point. The point is this, Crick pitched and got lit up in 2019 for weeks before some video guy saw something that led him to believe Kyle was tipping his pitches. Correcting it was just beginning before he injured himself punching Filipe.

Crick’s main issue there is why is HE finding this with a video guy, and he’s completely right to be upset, that’s a pitching coach’s job.

These two snippets may be what got me thinking about this subject but putting more evidence in the bucket after that was easier than you’d think.

Jameson Taillon, you know, number one pick who just can’t stay on the field, is aiming at a 2021 return. When he does come back, he’ll have a new delivery. Why? Well Jamo says it’s because his old motion was causing damage. You’ll remember last season when he added a slider to his pitch mix, he openly discussed the added stress on the elbow the pitch caused, turns out every pitch he threw put extra torque on the young man’s arm. Oscar Marin is correcting it and helping him discover a new motion and hopefully the beginning of a healthy second half of his career.

I’m no doctor, nor a pitching guru but I can understand a pattern. I’m not here to tell you if things were done differently Jamo escapes either of his TJ surgeries but I don’t think it’s a leap to expect this should have been caught long ago.

Need more, ok, how about Trevor Williams who also changed his delivery this off season to again reduce stress on his oblique and fatigue on his arm. This isn’t some guy blowing his arm out trying to hit triple digits on the gun, just a guy whose motion was causing issues for him.

JT Brubaker was on track to return to action last season, and I have to thank Craig for this one, and the Pirates sent him to Morgantown to toss two quick rehab starts which led to his eventual shut down for the season.

Archer was probably the most vocal last season about his disagreement with staff about utilization of his pitches and the use of a new pitch they um, encouraged him to use. He too finished the season on IL and of course will miss all of 2020 as well. Again, who am I to say, I’m just piling up 60% of the starting rotation and relaying the issues they’ve dealt with.

The good news is its over. The Pirates have changed all that and we now have a much more involved pitching coach. He listens and more importantly he looks, on his own.

It’s hard to look at all these instances that just happened and wonder how much different things could have been, hell it’s hard to look at it and wonder what they did to this season for that matter.

Players of course are more in tune with what they are individually feeling and going through. I knew it was bad, but I never knew how bad until for some reason all this clicked in my head.

Think about this too, even if Bob Nutting had his wallet open on the table, willing to spend, these guys all talk. Williams is friends with that free agent pitcher from San Diego. Joe is friends with a bunch of SoCal guys. You’d never encourage someone you care about to come join you in that environment.

Maybe I should have heard what Gerrit Cole said when he left less as sour grapes and more freedom to tell the truth. Drafting and development have been a big problem for this club to be sure, but part of that has to be helping these guys stay healthy and helping them find the most in themselves. That clearly wasn’t happening and more than any one reason, illustrates moving on from the last regime should have not come down to an eleventh-hour decision after 2019. Next to overall spending, this is Nutting’s greatest failure, and nobody should be more invested in hoping the old saying better late than never is true.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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