Miami Marlins: Why Jose Fernandez needs to change mechanically

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Yesterday, we had pitching mechanics expert Chris O’Leary on our Marlin Maniac Fishcast to discuss the injury to Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. Chris essentially explained why Fernandez is incredibly prone to arm injuries, and why this may not be his last.

“The same thing that got his elbow…got his shoulder,” said O’Leary on Fishcast. “He came back and his mechanics weren’t any better. You could actually argue they were worse.”

Chris pointed this out with a series of pictures showing Fernandez’s delivery. The first picture, displayed below on the left, came prior to his Tommy John surgery repairing his elbow.

In this photo, Fernandez twists his wrist, showing the ball to centerfield. While Chris claims that this “is a very commonly taught queue,” it’s also problematic. He states that by showing the ball to centerfield, Fernandez is preventing his body from ligament protection.

The next photo Chris displayed, above on the right, was one from Jose’s rehab workouts in October. This proved concerning, as the same twisting motion in his wrist hadn’t gone away.

“It showed me that nothing had changed,” said O’Leary.

Chris discussed two more problems in his mechanics that stuck out.

The first issue appears in the above photo on the left, where Chris characterizes Jose’s motion as the “Inverted L.” He mentions that this delivery “keeps the hand from getting up on time.” Fernandez experimented with bringing his elbow up as an adjustment, but Chris claims that such action only makes his timing worse.

The top right picture is Jose exhibiting what Chris calls “flat arm syndrome.”

“I didn’t see [Fernandez] with a flat arm prior to July of this year,” mentioned O’Leary. “That suggests to me that his timing has actually gotten worse. The ‘fixes’ have actually made him worse, not better.”

Staff writer Miller Lepree followed up by asking if these changes come from someone in the Marlins organization trying to ‘fix’ Fernandez.

“In all likelihood, yes,” said O’Leary. “Especially given the mechanics I see in other [Marlins pitchers], Henderson Alvarez and Jarred Cosart — basically everybody.”

Essentially, what Chris is saying is that Jose Fernandez needs to make a change in his mechanics. If he won’t change, Chris suggests that ‘option A’ is to move him to a closer role.

Many pitchers aren’t receptive to changing their mechanics. Chris states that Fernandez has solid lower body mechanics, but in order to fix him, Fernandez will need to be open to switching around his upper body in his delivery.

“If you can’t change the mechanics, just change his role, and hope you can get five years out of him,” said O’Leary.

The situation which appears most likely is that the Marlins will shut Fernandez down, not make any significant adjustments to his throwing form, and bring him back for Opening Day 2016. So I asked Chris how long he would last if that was the case.

“If the Marlins shut him down now, I would hope he could make it to the all-star break of next year,” O’Leary replied.

The Miami Marlins as an organization must assess this issue if they want their all-star pitcher to stay healthy throughout the rest of his career.

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