Stephen Strasburg had an eventful Sunday. He went two-for-two at the plate with his first career home run, while also pitching five innings, allowing just four hits, three runs (one earned) and striking out eight. He improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.21 with a 9-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The big news, however, was how the 23-year-old exited the game.
After the fifth inning Strasburg reported tightness in the biceps of his throwing arm, and manager Davey Johnson immediately shut his prized right-hander down.
While all parties involved have sworn that there is no reason to panic, any time Strasburg has arm trouble there is reason to be worried.
This is the same guy with a terribly taxing delivery who had major shoulder problems before requiring Tommy John surgery. That all happened before he had even thrown 70 innings in the big leagues.
Strasburg has once-in-a-generation stuff, but as many before me have said, his throwing motion puts a ridiculous amount of strain on his arm. All of his arm. His shoulder, elbow and biceps all face serious tension throughout different stages of his delivery.
At the point when he lands his left foot his arm forms the dreaded “inverted W.” Instead of being even with his shoulder so he can get over and above his legs, his elbow is trailing far behind his throwing shoulder once he squares himself to the plate.
He relies too heavily on his arm’s muscles instead of using his far more powerful legs and torso. Some pitchers can get away with that kind of delivery if they don’t throw hard since they don’t use their arms at such a fast rate. But Strasburg whips his arm around so fast that he’s putting an incredible strain on the tendons in his elbow and shoulder.
Much like Mark Prior, Strasburg puts so much pressure on his arm that it is only a matter of time until he hurts himself again. The biceps soreness he suffered on Sunday is just a prelude to bigger problems that are sure to come if he doesn’t change his delivery.