CAPSULE COMMENTS-NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

The West is my last National League division in this six-part analysis of every club in baseball.

For my review of the NL East and Central, please see previous editions of BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD right here at ClubhouseCorner.com.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Exciting. Frustrating. Challenging. Those are three words that come to me when I consider the start this season for a team I watch consistently, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks started the season on fire playing against good teams like the Rockies, the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Giants, the Dodgers again, the Giants again, the Phillies, the Padres, the Phillies again, the Nationals and the Dodgers again in March, April and May.

The team was flying high. Spirits were good. The team was clicking. The pitching staff, led by lefty Patrick Corbin was really exceeding expectations.

In the early part of the season two of their power hitters, Jake Lamb and Stephen Souza Jr. went down with lengthy injuries. Then starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray came down with serious injuries. Walker is lost for the season after having to have Tommy John surgery. Ray will be scuffling with an oblique strain, an injury that could be off and on again all season. Souza and Lamb returned, only for Souza to become injured again with oblique issues.

The roll the team had going came to a slow dribble as the calendar got deeper into May. Losing became more common then winning. Paul Goldschmidt, the team’s All-Star first basement went into a lasting slump from which he may extricate himself as the season progresses. Goldschmidt actually began a decline last fall when he was injured. He hasn’t snapped out of it.

Perhaps the humidor installed a Chase Field has had a more negative impact on the home team then on the opposition. But without question, the humidor is taking a toll on balls hit in the air. Quickly, Chase Field is becoming as a location where fly balls go to die. The same can’t be said of line drives. If hit hard enough, any baseball can find the seats at Chase. But high fly balls usually find a final resting place in the gloves of fielders on the warning track.

I believe Goldschmidt’s issues were as much mental as physical. Once he began to press he started swing at bad pitches and letting good pitches become called strikes. Even casual fans in the Valley of the Sun have asked what’s wrong with Goldschmidt.

As the losing became more consistent, something happened in Chase Field I have never heard in all my years covering the team.  The fans in the stands booed home team players. I had never heard a Diamondbacks player booed.  Yet, catcher Alex Avila, off to a miserable season was greeted by a chorus of boos in mid-May.  My friend Bobby Freeman, the organist at Chase Field and an expert on the Dbacks confirmed he had never heard a Diamondbacks player booed.  That’s significant.

A.J. Pollock has always played hard. He has missed time in the past couple years due to injuries.  Well, once again Pollock is on the shelf. He hurt his hand diving for a ball that eventually went for an inside the park home run.  At the time of his injury, Pollock was hitting in the clutch and batting .293 to lead the team in hitting.

I frankly don’t know where the Dbacks would be without journeyman infielder/outfielder Daniel Descalso. Called upon to play third base in the absence of Lamb, Descalso also takes turns in the outfield in addition to other infield spots as needed. Descalso provides a tough out to pitchers. He sees the ball well, is selective and makes good hitting decisions. His line drive approach is reminiscent of Brandon Drury, a very good hitter the Diamondbacks traded to the New York Yankees in the deal that ultimately garnered Souza Jr.

Souza Jr. plays very hard himself. Not unlike Descalso, Souza Jr. is not adverse to getting his uniform dirty, a trait that endears him to fans. However, his hitting has not yet materialized.

Obtained in an effort to fill the right field gap left vacant with the departure of free agent and now Boston Red Sox slugger J. D. Martinez. to date Souza Jr. has not made the crowd forget Martinez. Nor will he. But Souza Jr. can’t stay healthy and Descalso along with Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson will have to pick up outfield work for both Pollock and at times, Souza Jr.

The Diamondbacks front office led by general manager Mike Hazen made a couple recent decisions that seem puzzling to this analyst. First and foremost, instead of signing his own free agent catcher Chris Iannetta who had a good year for Arizona in 2017 (.254/17/43), Iannetta got a nice two-year contract from the rival Colorado Rockies.

The Diamondbacks chose to sign free agent catcher Alex Avila, formerly of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. To say that Avila’s production for the Dbacks has been underwhelming so far is beyond an understatement.  The team also jettisoned catcher Chris Herrmann, a gamer type guy that could catch and play the outfield in a pinch. In his stead, they promoted younger catcher John Ryan Murphy. I can’t quibble with that. I think a catching corps of Iannetta and Murphy would have been a solid duo, leaving a roster spot for another pitcher or player.

The second misstep of the new regime, in my opinion, relates to the contract signed by infielder Ketel Marte. He was signed for five years at a total of $24MM. This is where it gets interesting. Marte will earn $1.4MM this season. Then in 2019, it climbs to $2.4MM and then $4.4MM and then $6.4MM and then $8.4MM. You get the pattern here, right?  But then the team has options for 2023 at $10MM and 2024 for $12MM.  I guess they don’t have to worry about a second baseman for a while, right? After you bring me down off the ledge, please tell me the Dbacks Brass see something I don’t see.  Last year Marte hit .260/5/18.  Oh, and so far this season, Marte isn’t hitting close to that. And this is a team that traded away Didi Gregorius just as they knew he was getting better and better.

I can’t fault people for thinking the Dbacks are a solid team. In most respects, they are.

On the surface, when healthy the pitching staff is good. With Zack Greinke as the ace, the team can boast a solid rotation of Corbin, Greinke, right-hander Zack Godley and when healthy, lefty Robbie Ray until Walker returns. Until then they have surprising right-hander Matt Koch as the fourth starter. The fifth starter is a mystery. The name of the fifth starter is a complete puzzle every time that turn comes around.  The team is waiting for injured Shelby Miller to return from Tommy John surgery. One can imagine how short the pitching depth is if the team is actually awaiting the return of Miller, a disaster so far in his brief stint with the club prior to breaking down with elbow issues that required surgery.

The bullpen has been revamped from last year, but the pen did a good job then despite external criticism. The new closer is import Brad Boxberger, also traded to Arizona from Tampa Bay, but in November last year.  He is joined by fan favorite Archie Bradley as one set-up guy and import from Japan, Yoshihisa Hirano who does a very good job throwing strikes and doing his job primarily in the 7th inning.

In their need for a star quality outfielder (Souza Jr.), Hazen and staff traded Brandon Drury and left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda in their deal-making. Banda was probably the highest rated potential starter in the organization. He is now gone, pitching instead for Tampa Bay, the team that sent over Souza Jr. in a complex 3-team February 2018 trade.

The future?  Well, frankly the team will have to do one of two things. First, they can stand pat and take their chances with what they have on the roster and in the farm system. However, the farm system is rather depleted with several general managers in a row having used the players in development as trade chips. The team can also look to trade for pitching help. Who do they trade? They have three catchers on the roster, may one from among Jeff Mathis, Alex Avila or John Ryan Murphy has trade value. I doubt it. I doubt it very much.

I was among the voices calling for the Diamondbacks to trade Paul Goldschmidt this offseason. As painful as that may have been, it is always better to trade a player a year too soon than a year too late. Goldschmidt’s value has declined as his slump has lingered. And frankly, Goldschmidt entered this slump last season-not this spring. He was hurt then. He says he is totally healthy now.

My Diamondbacks Farm System Rank: 27 out of 30

Top Prospects with potential major-league arrival date

Jon Duplantier-RHP (2018)

Pavin Smith-1B (2019)

Taylor Clarke-RHP (2018)

Jasrado Chisholm-SS (2021)

Daulton Varsho-C (2020)

COLORADO ROCKIES

A friend pointed out that the Colorado Rockies offense is really not as lethal as their reputation. For years, I have been among the crowds stating the Rockies were an amazing club that can outslug any team in baseball. That opinion was magnified when the team played home games at Coors Field. Even with the humidor in place, analysts always looked to the Rockies as a bashing team of high average sluggers.

The Rockies were the first to use the humidor. Home run totals declined almost immediately after putting balls in the humidor before they are put into play. As is the case with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the newest member of the humidor club, if hit well enough any ball can make it over the fences in Colorado.

Thin air has another impact on playing at Coors. Pitchers find it very difficult to spin the ball. Along with very vast outfield spaces, and the humidor impacting hitting, the thin air requires pitchers to use more fastballs and keep the ball down in the zone.  As a result, over the years pitchers have come to Coors with respectable numbers and have departed for other clubs with inflated ERAs and WHIPs.  Now, however, it appears the Rockies have found some quality pitchers to handle and manage pitching at Coors.

a rotation of Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Chad Bettis and Kyle Freeland give their club a chance to win each outing.

The bullpen is loaded with pitchers that have been successful both in Colorado and elsewhere. Wade Davis has assumed the closer’s role after signing a free agent contract this offseason. Davis is a seasoned closer, still in the prime of his career at age 32.  Adam Ottavino and Jake McGee as well as import Bryan Shaw round out the set-up pitchers in the pen.

Offensively, perhaps the finest all-around third baseman in the game is Nolan Arenado. He is a fantastic defensive third baseman with a rifle arm. Few people make the bare-handed play coming in from third as well as Arenado. And that’s just the defensive side. He is a terrific power hitter with a great eye at the plate and patience to go along with it. Arenado has the power to hit the ball out of any park.  Perhaps the most exciting part about Arenado is the fact his line drive approach can beat the impact of the humidor in any at-bat.

The other high impact bat on the Rockies belongs to center fielder Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon is one of those dangerous hitters that get an extra at-bat every game by hitting in the leadoff position. Blackmon is a young 31 and he clearly has the ability to land on All-Star teams year after year.  He can hit for power, hit for average and he can steal bases.  Blackmon is signed to a contract that will pay him $77MM from 2018-2021, making him a critical part of the club for years to come.

The Rockies chose to sign Carlos Gonzalez as a free agent. Some say Gonzalez was signed at the urging of Arenado and others on the team as they all looked for more offense.  I can’t say I believe Gonzalez will have a tremendous impact on the roster. He plays at the expense of rookie outfielder David Dahl, a good outfielder capable of hitting well if given a chance.

In 2016 the Rockies signed free agent Ian Desmond to play first base and the outfield.

There is little doubt Desmond has been a disappointment as a Rockies offensive threat. He has shown little since being signed.  How long the Rockies choose to stick with Desmond is yet to be determined.

Shortstop Trevor Story is emerging the prime of his career. He has tremendous power in his frame, but the home runs come at the expense of a large strikeout total. Story has a tendency to hit homers in bunches and strikeout in bunches. A good defender, he may or may not be able to retain his shortstop role depending upon how the club wishes to use prospect Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers could end up being the second baseman or the shortstop.

Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu is a consistent good hitting, excellent fielding player. He has been dealing with a sprained thumb that has cost him playing time. LeMahieu will be a free agent at the end of the year. That will open a more permanent role for the aforementioned Rodgers.

Chris Iannetta is holding down the job as the Rockies catcher after coming over from Arizona as a free agent. Iannetta is a credible backstop capable of handling the pitching staff.

There are some holes on the club but they may well be able to hang around the National League West for years. Built around Arenado and Blackmon, decisions will have to be made on LeMahieu and Gonzalez going forward. They may be important because other than a couple of solid prospects, the farm system likely won’t be offering much help in the near future.

My Rockies Farm System Rank: 17 out of 30

Top Prospects with their potential major league arrival time (not including players like David Dahl and Ryan McMahon who have made the parent club but are now back in minor league baseball)

Brendan Rodgers-SS/2B (2018)

Colton Welker-3B (2020)

Peter Lambert-RHP (2019)

Ryan Vilade-SS (2021)

Ryan Castellani-RHP (2018)

SAN DIEGO PADRES

That wind you feel when sitting at Petco Park may well be the swings and misses of the San Diego Padres. The strikeout are mounting.  Important guys in the lineup are going down on strikes with a bit of regularity. The roster of players striking out is lengthy. The offense has promise, but they have to make more contact to find success.

There are some interesting players on the team. There are players that are getting a chance to play due to injuries to others and there are youngsters on the club that may still have been in development on other teams.

When one player is injured, as has been the case with Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe for example, other players get an opportunity. That’s exactly the case with the opportunities for Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero, both now in the Padres starting lineup and both getting a chance for valuable at-bats that show off their skills. Other position players like catcher Austin Hedges, and Alex Dickerson (Tommy John surgery) have had a variety of game-missing ailments that have kept them out of action at one time or another. Myers and Renfroe helped provide power. Dickerson and Hedges helped lengthen the lineup with solid baseball players.

Jankowski is an interesting player. He has good speed, a terrific attitude and a hitting tool that he has just begun to showcase. I would hope he gets a sustained chance to play, even after the return of the regular outfielders.  Cordero has more power then Jankowski, but he has more swing and miss in him. He has some issues defensively in the outfield at times, but his future is solid.

Christian Villanueva, himself out of the lineup with injuries during the early part of the season has really come on strong now that the Padres have given him a chance to play. Villanueva may be a late bloomer, but he is at the prime age of 26 going on 27. His emergence was what initially sent veteran Chase Headley to the bench and the ultimately to being designated for assignment.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis may be only a short-term solution. One of the aspects I like the most about the Padres is the cadre of young middle-infielders the team currently has in development. Consider that Fernando Tatis, Jr., Luis Urias and Javy Guerra are all capable of being major-league quality shortstops and/or second basemen in the near future. They won’t all be able to play on the same diamond, but room will be made on the 25-man roster for guys like that trio that can play the game on defense and hit the ball.

There are some quality arms in the Padres rotation, but the team got a big blow when promising right-hander Dinelson Lamet went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Lamet, 25, was finding his rhythm and pitching well enough to be a future staff leader when he walked off the mound in pain during a game I was attending.

Other than Lamet, oft-injured right-hander Tyson Ross can be trusted to offer a solid outing and give his team a chance to win when he takes the mound. But Ross is fragile and it really is anyone’s guess how long he can last without getting hurt again.

Joey Lucchesi, a young lefty was getting plenty of buzz before he left the rotation with a strained hip in mid-May. Lucchesi is one of the Padre pitchers that the future rotation can be built around.  Other starters include Jordan Lyle and Eric Lauer.

One of the great strengths of the team is the pitching depth they have throughout the organization. Waiting to complete development and get their own chances to pitch are Cal Quantrill, Michel Baez, Anderson Espinoza (recent Tommy John surgery) and Adrian Morejon. Each of them will arrive in San Diego on different timetables, but each has a chance to claim a spot somewhere in the pitching lineup. The Padres have so many good pitching and infield prospects, not all of them could make my Top 5 listed below.  The future success in San Diego may be based upon the quality and results of their prospect pitching.

Without question Brad Hand is one of the best stories on the Padres. The team’s closer, Hand may be highly sought at the trade deadline and the Padres may be willing to trade him. He’s solid and dependable. They also have veterans Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen to anchor the pen. Other relievers aren’t household names, but they are capable of getting the game to Hand.

My Padres Farm System Rank: 2 out of 30

Top Prospects with the potential to reach the big leagues with their arrival times. The list does not include players that have already graduated.

Fernando Tatis Jr.-SS-(2019)

McKenzie Gore-LHP-(2020)

Michel Baez-RHP-(2019)

Cal Quantrill-RHP-(2019)

Luis Urias-INF-(2018)

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

We are not watching anything close to the Los Angeles Dodgers team we had witnessed for the past couple years. The wheels have come off the wagon. And the decline is serious.

Impact players? Well, they used to be up and down the lineup and up and down the rotation.

Now even Clayton Kershaw isn’t even CLAYTON KERSHAW. He’s just Clayton Kershaw. Injured once again, Kershaw hasn’t really been himself since the initial back injury. Please don’t get me wrong, he’s still among the best in the business. But he just isn’t the king of the hill.

When Kershaw returns the Dodgers will look and feel different.

As if losing Kershaw wasn’t enough, the team lost part of the core with the injury to Justin Turner. Replacing Kershaw and Turner isn’t easy. Turner brings everything to the club. Inconsistent but lethal when he’s in a groove, the return of Turner really helps. But is it too late?

The injury to Corey Seager is huge. Frankly, he was hurt last year and probably should have had surgery at that time. Now, after having Tommy John surgery he will be gone for an entire year. Position players return sooner than pitchers. But the team misses Seager. Not many teams could survive the loss of their best All-Star quality pitcher and very solid position players and keep their collective heads above water.

The Dodgers decided to bring Matt Kemp back from Atlanta. Still a good player and a solid hitter, is Kemp part of the future or is he a hitter of the past? Would he yield a nice benefit in a mid-season trade with a contender? I don’t know. It would all depend upon the price being paid.

I must admit I’m cooling on Cody Bellinger. I’m just not totally convinced. I sure like the power but the strikeouts with that huge uppercut swing are a real concern-at least for me. He and Chris Taylor are striking out in bunches and it really doesn’t help the team. Not putting the bat on the ball is epidemic in baseball. I guess it could be worse. He could be hitting into double-plays.

Yasiel Puig is another Dodgers puzzle. Who is this guy? Is he a steady power hitter or is he someone that has some sizzle but very little pop? And he is among the guys that trouble me about the Dodgers. Inconsistency this season is really hurting the team.

Inconsistent hitting and position player injuries have really hurt in the first two months of the season. But pitching injuries are a concern as well. It isn’t only Kershaw that’s on the shelf.

Hyun-Jin Ryu cannot get himself healthy enough to sustain a position in the rotation. Now disabled again, Ryu is solid when healthy. Walker Buehler, a rookie right-hander is now in the rotation. I think the 23-year-old has a bright future and he should finish the season strong.

Most teams would love to have a lefty like Rich Hill to anchor their staff in the absence of an ace like Kershaw. But Hill has had his injury miseries himself, and the blister issue that shows up may always be a concern. Hill has had some rough outings this season.

Alex Wood is probably a bit underrated in my opinion. I like what the lefty can bring, but he does scuffle with command and control at times. He and Kenta Maeda can control an opposition lineup with good pitch mixes and changing speeds. But both have to have their command consistently to navigate opposing lineups.

Kenley Jansen hasn’t been Kenley Jansen this season and that may be a big part of why the Dodgers find themselves looking up in the standings. Usually reliable, Jansen had hiccups at the beginning of the season, found himself, then drifted off again. He has to be “on” and shut down games economically in the 9th inning. Throwing far too many pitches, Jansen may exhaust himself by August.

The rest of the bullpen is credible with Josh Fields and J. T. Chargois assuming set-up roles. but like most bullpens in the game today, no lead is safe. Truly safe.

The Dodgers have plenty of good players waiting in development for their turns. Buehler is just one among many good players. Outfielder Alex Verdugo has graduated as well. He’s a solid outfielder and he can help. But beyond those two, there are more prospects that have to wait for their turns.

My Dodgers farm system rank: 10 out of 30

Top Prospects that will impact the major-league club and their potential graduation dates. Note players like Buehler and Verdugo are not included due to their graduations.

Keibert Ruiz-C- (2020)

Yusniel Diaz- OF (2019)

Mitchell White- RHP (2019)

Yadier Alvarez-RHP (2019)

Jeren Kendall- (OF-2020)

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

I really have to give the Giants credit for hanging around when they’ve lost pitching starts from both Madison Bumgarner with a fractured pinkie finger and Johnny Cueto with a sore elbow.

It isn’t easy to lose two starters and continue to play competitive baseball. As the Diamondbacks who have lost Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray (see their capsule).

I don’t know where the Giants will end up in the NL West standings. But through May I like the Rockies and the Diamondbacks better. The Dodgers are going to improve as they get Clayton Kershaw back to health. So for me, that could leave the Giants fighting off the Padres for the basement in the division. And that might be exactly what their aging team will produce.

I’m not quite sure it’s fair to put a fork in Hunter Pence and call him finished quite yet, but he’s getting pretty close to that point. He’ll have a tough time cracking the starting lineup. The decline of Pence has been pretty rapid. I don’t know if he can help out at all, but now at 35 he’s had a great career. If it isn’t one injury, it’s another. He can’t stay healthy.

Joe Panik was having a great season before he, too, had to miss time. Panik has had thumb surgery and it meant that one of their scrappy and reliable players had to be replaced in the lineup.

Andrew McCutchen came over from the Pirates with something to prove. He’s still plenty relevant and viable as a solid centerfielder. The Giants picked up both the aging McCutchen and third baseman Evan Longoria in the offseason to beef up the offense. They have done that, but those transactions haven’t helped the team get any younger. And the age of their core players is an issue. I just think today’s game calls for younger, faster, hungrier players that are willing to play with their hair on fire. I don’t see that from many aging veterans. Not all, but many.

Frankly, I think Brandon Crawford is one of the underrated and undervalued players in the National League. At least at shortstop. Not only is he a very, very reliable and capable shortstop, but he’s a good hitter. Crawford is a smart player and one that can be depended upon to give a solid effort with well above average results.

Austin Jackson has found another home this year. After doing well last season for Cleveland, Jackson left as a free agent to join the Giants. He is now their steady and capable center fielder, playing each and every game unless spelled upon occasion by Gorkys Hernandez.

Mainstays Buster Posey and Brandon Belt continue to hit the ball hard for the Giants. They’ve been at the top of their games for a while, and each is respected for the continuity they bring to their game. Belt has managed to stay healthy, which is a very good thing for the Giants.

The San Francisco pitching staff has seen better times. They still search for back of the rotation starters like a prospector panning for gold. So far, I think those fourth and fifth starting pitchers continue to elude them. Ty Blach has had some good moments. Andrew Suarez as well. But along with guys like Chris Stratton and even Derek Holland, the rotation just doesn’t strike fear into the opposition. Jeff Samardzija has an arsenal that gets strikeouts. But he also keeps the ball up in the zone and can lose some baseballs in the bleachers behind the fence.

So, mediocre is the word of the day.  I think it will be almost impossible for the Giants to climb into the race for the West with their existing pitching staff.

If the starting pitching improves, the bullpen will still be a liability. This isn’t the World Series days when the Giants had a bullpen that could shut down any time from the middle innings until the end of the game. Those relievers are gone. The team paid lots of money to get the shut down closer in Mark Melancon. That has been a bust as Melancon can’t stay healthy. Even when he’s able to pitch, he hasn’t done the job on a consistent basis.

The current closer is right-hander Hunter Strickland. He has postseason experience and can likely step in to the big 9th inning role. Behind him, lefty Tony Watson was a free agent signing and Sam Dyson and Will Smith are both trade acquisitions. Again, I would label the bullpen mediocre, at best.

The fact the Giants have survived this long in the season in a competitive manner without the services of Bumgarner and Cueto taking the ball every fifth day is a testament to the resolve of their players and the ability of manager Bruch Bochy.

Rookie pitchers Andrew Suarez and Tyler Beede have made their major league debuts. Time will tell if these two can help out long-term. Beede is returning this year from injury and still needs time to make up some lost innings.

The farm system is not deep in prospects. Consequently, What we see now is likely what we’ll get for the next couple years regarding the Giants roster. There really isn’t much immediate help waiting in the minor league wings. There are several outfield prospects with promise, but it is the lack of pitching depth that should concern the Giants brass.

My Francisco Giants farm system rank: 23 out of 30

Top Prospects waiting to join the major-league club and their expected date of arrival.

Heliot Ramos-OF-(2022)

Chris Shaw-1B/OF- (2018)

Steven Duggar-OF-(2018)

Austin Slater-OF-(2018)

Sandro Fabian-OF- (2020)

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Popups

Much is being written about inept bullpens in baseball. Game after game for team after team in the early part of the season have been lost in the final couple innings of the game by bullpens that have imploded. Starting pitching takes the game to the 5th or 6th inning and turns the game over to the pen. Solid starters are working 110 pitches and then departing for help from the guys getting paid to hold the lead or hold the game until their own team can score.

Managers are asking far too much of their bullpens. The middle-men are working every other day. At times the set-up relievers are asked to work back-to-back games. The innings mount.

And often a reliever is up and throwing in the pen and not getting in the game.

We are seeing much more “situational” use of the pen. Some teams are going with the best pitcher for the particular moment of the game and not declaring one or another reliever the closer. Milwaukee has done an excellent job of situational bullpen use. The Los Angeles Angels are another team that will match-up their back of the bullpen guys. And there are more, of course. Frankly, that’s the way baseball is going. Bullpens are becoming more fluid with fewer declared “roles”. It just makes sense. The problem comes to play when the starter can’t get into the 6th. The bullpen is taxed with making up too many innings in a given game.

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Not only does baseball have an issue with pitcher’s forearm, elbow and shoulder injuries, baseball has a major issue with hamstring injuries. They aren’t discussed as much as pitching woes, but hamstring injuries claim a great deal of playing time from major-league players.

We generally associate hamstring injuries with players having thick and heavy legs like Miguel Sano or C.C. Sabathia.  But players with less lower body weight and bulk may be plagued by hamstring issues over and over. Look around the landscape of baseball and players with thick lower bodies and thick legs are plentiful.  These players have issues getting loose even in hot, humid weather.  That’s why it’s so important that diet and conditioning remain paramount in the lives of these special athletes. But players like Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Kinsler have missed time with hamstring injuries as well.

But diet and exercise can only go so far. The physicality of a player provides him his unique skills. When he makes contact, Sano can hit a ball as far as anyone. But to do that, he has to be healthy. His huge lower body is a major generator of his power.

The sudden acceleration in a body after being still for a while helps contribute to hamstring injuries. Moving the hips and generating every muscle in the lower-body after being still for quite some time is not natural. In addition to those noted above, players like Martin Prado, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Turner, Hunter Pence, and Jean Segura are among a long, long list of players that have missed significant time with hamstring injuries.

There are three hamstrings behind each thigh. When those hamstrings are jolted by activity after being still for some time, it is quite possible a strain can occur. That’s why we see guys pull up after running to first base or chasing down a fly ball. The sudden movement causes strain.

Some hamstring injuries are so serious the player may miss a month or even more. So while we have a right to be concerned about forearm, shoulder and elbow issues in pitchers, hamstring injuries are a major cause of missed playing time on virtually every club.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

 

About The Author

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie's work has been featured on MLB Pipeline, MLB.com and FanRag Sports, among others. You can follow Bernie Pleskoff on Twitter @BerniePleskoff