Chris Bassitt explains why he believes pitcher injuries are so prevalent

A problem with no easy solution.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets
Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Former New York Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt didn’t need an investigative degree to figure out why the number of pitcher injuries is so prevalent. On the job learning has allowed him enough first hand experience to know what it is that has arms, elbows, and shoulders exploding.

A member of the Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff since leaving the Mets post-2022, he spoke with Chris Rose about the rise of injuries.

Bassitt could be onto something. But what’s the solution?

The Mets know all about throwing hard and injuries

Jacob deGrom is a leading example of a guy who threw harder and got even more familiar with the injured list as a result. Although he was already throwing hard with an average 4-seam fastball speed of 96 mph when he won his first Cy Young in 2018, he elevated it to an average of 99.2 mph in 2021. This was the first year when deGrom started to get hurt a lot more.

deGrom’s dominance on the mound was in large part due to his velocity. It wasn’t just his 4-seamer either. His changeup averaged 92 mph in 2022. Per Bassitt’s reasoning, this is about what one would want to expect from a fastball.

We’ve seen the Mets go after hard-throwers this offseason. Often lacking in control and with a history of injury themselves, it’s impossible to put a cap on velocity. It would almost be as if players were tearing hamstrings more because of how fast they can run. You can’t slow down something that makes an athlete excel at the sport.

Throwing softer isn’t going to win a reliever a major league roster spot. The short-term projects in particular have to do whatever they can to make it. Starters are no longer expected to go much more than five innings. Relievers rarely last more than one frame. The resurgence of the knuckleballer who pitches until he’s 45 would be a blast. But for every Phil Niekro, R.A. Dickey, and Tim Wakefield there are countless others who fail to ever have a scout show up.

Fans will sometimes complain that today’s players are too coddled. Maybe so. Equally true could be the fact that they put their bodies through the ringer more. A cultural change in the game and acceptance of the 92 mph fastball being king seems to be what Bassitt suggests as the solution. Unfortunately for rotator cuffs all over the world, the evolution of repairing these injuries rather than preventing them by taking it easier is the direction the game will go in.