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Justin Verlander Using Ron Wolforth's Connection BallWhy did Justin Verlander break? First, and twice, having Triceps problems? And now needing Tommy John surgery? JV broke because a pitching guru named Ron Wolforth diagnosed him with a — phony — flaw called Forearm Flyout.

Tyler Duffey Demonstrating Forearm Flyout

Tyler Duffey Demonstrating
Forearm Flyout

And broke him in the process of trying to fix him.

This piece is a deep dive into Forearm Flyout; what it is and whether it's bad.

I discuss the relationship between Justin Verlander, Ron Wolforth, Forearm Flyout, what happened to JV, and some related topics in a couple of other pieces.

Forearm Flyout

(Pitching) Forearm Flyout is a term I first heard Dr. Mike Marshall use, but it seem Ron Wolforth had adopted — or, more accurately, co-opted — it.

Dr. Mike Marshall

Marshall's theory is that, in order to protect their elbows, pitcher want to do what Clayton Kershaw is doing. In the picture below, Kershaw is pronating his forearm into and through the release point, so that the pitching elbow doesn't fully extend, preventing bones from banging together.

Clayton Kershaw Pitching Mechanics

Clayton Kershaw

That's why his pitching arm isn't fully extended; instead, there's still some flex in his elbow.

And which seems like a good idea.

Assuming it's possible.

Ron Wolforth

Ron Wolforth also uses the term Forearm Flyout, though he uses it to describe something different.

Basically, Wolforth uses the term Forearm Flyout to describe what most would describe as Long-Arming (as opposed to Short-Arming).

I wasn't completely sure what Ron Wolforth was talking about until I listened to his interview on the YBE podcast — YBE 031: Digging Deeper Into Better Pitching (Part 2) with Ron Wolforth — and looked at the accompanying photos.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Forearm Flyout

Then, it came into focus with the April 19, 2019 article Justin Verlander wants to be the Tom Brady of baseball.

In Verlander's case, the fix took a village. One of the key members of Verlander Village (besides the life-saver physical therapist and the ass-to-grass trainer) is Ron Wolforth, a mechanics guru who has worked with Scott Kazmir and Trevor Bauer, among others. Wolforth helped Verlander realize his core injury had caused him to start compensating. Instead of his right arm being bent 90 degrees and looking like the letter L prior to delivery, Verlander's hand had started to drift down and away from his head, creating an obtuse angle that more closely resembled a V and sapped some giddy-up from the hurler's heater.
To fix the problem, Wolforth prescribed something called a connection ball. A squishy, inflatable sphere that's wedged between the biceps and forearm and can stay there only with proper 90-degree mechanics, the tool worked wonders on his arm posture. "It started creeping up and up and up, and I started feeling better and better and better," says Verlander, who still keeps a turquoise connection ball in his locker, just in case his mechanics start to stray. "I started throwing harder and harder and harder again, and that was that. It was off and running."

But, here's the problem.

I remain unconvinced that Long-Arming is bad and, therefore, remain unconvinced that Forearm Flyout is the problem that Ron Wolforth thinks it is.

Due in part to the fact that the only — now two — times JV hurt his arm was when he tried to fix his problem with Forearm Flyout.

Logically, if something is — actually — a flaw, then shouldn't a pitcher NOT get hurt when trying to move to the "superior" movement pattern?

The Science

To justify his belief, Ron Wolforth cites a study of the baseball pitching motion.

According to a 2009 Study commissioned by major league baseball and reported in The American Journal of Sports Medicine (Aguinaldo and Chambers), if a pitcher's torso begins to rotate toward the hitter prior to the moment when his front foot hits the ground, or if at that point in the delivery, the angle between his forearm and his humerus exceeds 90 degrees, there will be significantly increased levels of torque on the ulnar collateral ligament. (Am J Sports Med October 2009 vol 37 no10 2043-2048)

Tyler Duffey

Twins pitcher Tyler Duffey seems to be Ron Wolforth's index patient for Forearm Flyout, so let's take a look at his pitching mechanics.

Tyler Duffey Pitching Mechanics

Tyler Duffey

Connection Ball

Why does the Connection Ball work?

When -- and if -- it does?

I'd suggestion it works because it tends to improve a pitcher's Timing.

Connection Ball Pitching Mechanics

Connection Ball

In the picture above of a pitcher throwing with the Connection Ball, notice how his pitching arm is UP?

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