Originally Posted by voodoochile
I think the pitchers are babies/weaker argument is a bit overblown.
First, there are a ton more pitchers in use in MLB than there were "back in the day". Really the number of guys whose arms can stand up to that kind of abuse probably isn't able to keep up with the demand for said arms.
Second, I'd guess (not having checked the stats) that the average pitcher has a longer career today than he did 40 years ago.
Third, I think some of this issue is perception. I mean we remember all these long lived great pitchers from days of yore because they were great long lived pitchers. You aren't going to remember the hundreds/thousands of guys who were 1-5 season MLB pitchers who blew out an elbow or ended up simply sucking their way out of the league. Thus our perception of how macho/strong/powerful the pitchers back then were because we only know/remember the guys who lasted a long time and pitched well. For every Walter Johnson there are 500 nameless wannabes none of us can name.
I won't comment on Sale because I cannot speak with any authority on the issue. However I will ask this question: Some people have compared him to Randy Johnson's throwing motion. I don't know whether Johnson had a classic inverted W or not, but how true is this analogy and how much of a difference does it make?
The biggest difference in Johnson (and Chris O'Leary does mention this) is that he never saw the timing issues that, say, a Mark Prior, Chris Sale, or Stephen Strausburg did. The inverted W can be safe, it's just nearly impossible for it to be unless your timing is perfect. In all of the latter cases, the arms are routinely later than the rest of their body (causing it to raise above the shoulder and become the sole focal point for the body's momentum). Later in his career, Johnson was able to prevent this (essentially changing his form to a safer "borderline" version of the inverted W and building up his body to reduce the effects of the previous damage he caused. I think the biggest thing for people is the terminology. They're all inverted W's, yes. But when people talk about the danger, they're really only talking about one type.