Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
This season, the Mets started working with KinaTrax, a motion-capture technology company designed to track pitcher delivery and bio-mechanics. From what I can gather, the Mets are essentially their guinea pig, as the company sets up for a larger launch next year.
To date, the Brewers and Orioles are the only teams currently spending money on bio-mechanical evaluations on all their pitchers, injury expert Will Carroll told me in August. Of course, that is probably because it is Rick Peterson’s company, 3PSports, and, prior to working with the Orioles in his current role, he was the pitching coach in Milwaukee. The Mets also used Peterson’s services while he was their pitching coach, but discontinued the relationship after he was fired.
According to people with the company, the Mets were KinaTrax’s first MLB partner. They installed cameras around Citi Field and have been tracking pitchers since early summer. The goal is to collect data on how pitcher mechanics impact the game, how they compare from season to season and what that information can say about a pitcher’s overall health.
Unfortunately for Matt Harvey, to be useful, the technology requires a baseline of information that can take up to a year to collect. So, there was almost certainly not enough data to identify any potential red flags around their ace’s elbow.
KinaTrax has said their data cannot necessarily identify when an injury or breakdown may occur. However, that appears to be their ultimate goal, as they look to build out the technology over time. For instance, as it stands, information isn’t available until the next day, which is something they’re working to improve.
According to FanGraphs, advance research from PitchFX indicates Harvey was not showing signs of fatigue in the starts leading up to his elbow injury. In talking to experts in sports medicine, it sounds to me like it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. By summer, even if Harvey stopped pitching around the All-Star game, got rest and began an extensive rehab program, he would have ended up in this situation eventually. It would only have delayed the inevitable.
There is no guarantee any sort of research or data will matter. It seems to be an inexact science relative to every pitcher’s unique situation. I mean, it’s not like the Orioles and Brewers stopped seeing arm injuries the minute Peterson started sending his guys to Birmingham. But, it’s a start. It’s something. And, as a fan growing tired of pitch counts and year-long rehabs, I’m glad to hear the Mets are being proactive and creative in their attempt to protect their pitchers and investment in young arms. Hopefully, it makes a difference, the technology improves and MLB eventually gets this under control.