John Maine’s Chronic Mechanical Problem
Absolutely nothing has changed with John Maine since I wrote this post in late July 2008: I Can Fix Maine in 10 Minutes. Mind you, this was before Maine’s shoulder problems arose (though if you read the post the injury was predicted).
I had hopes that the issue was understood and being addressed last spring, but Maine has since regressed. Maybe it’s a mental block for Maine, or maybe it’s a failure on the part of Dan Warthen. Or maybe fixing the issue hasn’t been made a focus, for whatever reason. It would be unrealistic to expect a complete overhaul of his mechanics at this point in his life, but not unreasonable to believe minor adjustments could be made to lessen his problems (and for those who didn’t get it, my “10 minutes” title was a joke — a dig on Rick Peterson). The bottom line is, Maine still severely over-rotates, carries the ball behind his back, and as a result opens up his front shoulder too early and puts his release point at a position that severely limits the possible places the ball can go AND puts his shoulder muscles in danger. The only difference between now and 2008 is a significant loss in velocity, which is probably a combination of the poor mechanics and the accelerated wear and tear on his arm (that were caused by the poor mechanics).
When Maine was slinging the ball at 95+ MPH, it didn’t matter that the only spot he could hit consistently was up and in to RH hitters / up and away to LH hitters — the velocity combined with that location made him tough to hit. If by some miracle Maine can get his giddyup back in that range, he has a chance to be an effective pitcher 50-60% of the time. If not, he’s going to have a hard time adjusting to what is average MLB velocity, because his mechanics as they are now do not allow him to have average control — much less the pinpoint control necessary to win consistently at the big league level.
The situation isn’t completely hopeless, but it’s not going to get better on its own. Maine needs proper direction and intensive concentration on correcting his mechanics at least enough to minimize the physical danger and improve command. Again, an overhaul is likely unrealistic, but tweaks are possible. Either way, a minor league stint is probably the best course of action for both Maine and the Mets over the long haul.
Oh, for those who think I have no business talking about pitching mechanics, please read this before spitting your venom below. You’re welcomed to engage in intelligent debate, but please try to refrain from questioning my credentials — it’s old, it’s boring, and it doesn’t add to the conversation.