Marlins join clubs affected by elbow injuries

Marlins join clubs affected by elbow injuries

LOS ANGELES -- The season has not yet reached the June 5 First-Year Player Draft, and already Major League Baseball has seen a number of its highly talented pitchers go down to serious elbow injuries.

The Marlins are the latest, with Jose Fernandez being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow sprain.

Several high-quality pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery this season, including Jarrod Parker (A's), A.J. Griffin (A's), Matt Moore (Rays), Patrick Corbin (D-backs) and Kris Medlen (Braves), to name a few.

The Marlins took so many precautions to protect Fernandez since he was promoted from Class A to the big leagues in 2013. The 21-year-old was on a strict pitch limit as a rookie, being shut down after 172 1/3 innings.

This season, Fernandez was given some extra days between starts whenever possible.

As the industry is continously reminded, no one is immune from potential injury.

As an organization, the Marlins take every step at every level to properly develop pitchers. They're on strict throwing programs, and go throuh progressions.

In Fernandez's case, he has a clean, smooth delivery. Some contend he throws too many breaking pitches, and there is probably some merit to that. He's thrown fastballs 52 percent of the time this season, and the rest of his pitches are either a slider, curveball or change.

Still, that doesn't explain everything. Why so many injuries?

"I'd have to say it is partially the nature of pitching," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "As an industry, I know we all are very cautious and protective of our pitching. We just have to be with the number of injuries that are out there. But even when you are cautious and protective, things happen that you just chalk up to being part of the game. It's unfortunate. I'm not sure what the answer is, but we'll continue to be protective of our pitching and develop it in a smart, sensible way, and hopefully try to avoid injuries, if you can."

Scott Boras, Fernandez's agent, raises the point that some injuries are a result of young pitchers not yet knowing how to harness their overpowering stuff. Boras has seen it firsthand in recent years with some of his clients. Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey each have had Tommy John surgery.

"You have elite talent," Boras said. "You have the ability to do things beyond the levels of your durability, because your talent is so high. A veteran pitcher knows the boundaries of that."

Younger pitchers may try to amp their fastballs up higher, or snap off that perfect slider.

A veteran, on the other hand, may know how to not press the pedal too hard.

"They know when they have the big engines, they also have the steering wheels of experience to go with it," Boras said. "The young pitchers don't have that."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter