Can biomechanical analysis help the Orioles reduce pitching injuries?

Before the 2010 season, Baseball America released its list of the top 100 prospects in Major League Baseball. Brian Matusz was ranked at No. 5, Zach Britton at No. 63 and Jake Arrieta at No. 99.

As we head into the 2012 season, all three pitchers are either currently dealing with an injury or had some injury issues last season. Yesterday, we learned that Britton is now dealing with some left shoulder inflammation and recently had an MRI. He said he fully expects to be ready for opening day.

It is one thing for the Orioles to lose games, but another to see them lose players to injury that leads to them losing games.

Orioles fans are frustrated that it looks like they may begin the season without their leadoff hitter, Brian Roberts. In the farm system, injuries to players like Brandon Erbe, Matt Hobgood, Dan Klein and Tyler Townsend - to name just a few - have been frustrating for both those players and fans alike.

Are the Orioles just unlucky with the injuries? If they are, has a team ever had a run of bad luck like this?

To many fans, it seems the problem must go deeper than just bad luck. I have asked plenty of questions about the injuries to plenty of people and have yet to hear a theory that leads to a logical conclusion that the Orioles are doing something that has led to all the injuries.

Still, you have to wonder what the heck is going on here.

As it relates to the pitchers especially - both in the majors and minors - I hold out hope that the recent addition of Rick Peterson as the club’s director of pitching development may eventually lead to fewer injuries and more periods of sustained health for O’s hurlers of all ages. Before we can determine if some pitchers have the talent or not, they have to be healthy enough to show what they’ve got. The Orioles’ organization is simply not deep enough to sustain injuries to many of its top pitching talents.

Peterson plans to take a deeper look at Orioles’ hurlers through his use of biomechanical analysis. I recently interviewed him about that for this story.

The Orioles, I have heard, plan to have “the pitching lab” ready for their pitchers when they report to Sarasota this weekend. During the first week of camp they will likely put more than 30 pitchers through biomechanical analysis to take a closer look at their deliveries and mechanics. It could lead to a better understanding of which pitchers have some mechanical issues that could potentially lead to future injuries.

To me, Peterson’s addition - if he can prove to be effective with this approach - may prove to be the most critical of any by Dan Duquette to date. I don’t know if biomechanical analysis will work for the Orioles, but I know this: Whatever approach the club has taken in recent years just hasn’t been working.

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