Every year the injury bug hits teams hard, but through the first month of the season the elite pitchers around MLB are getting injured at drastic rates.
Chris Carpenter, Felix Hernandez, Jason Schmidt, B.J. Ryan, Kenny Rogers and Mike Mussina highlight the list of pitchers who are on the disabled list instead of on the field trying to help their club win.
The best example of how injuries have affected a pitching staff's performance is to look at the current state of the Yankees rotation. Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano are currently on the DL and staff ace Chien-Mien Wang returned Tuesday night and surrendered four runs over 6 and 1/3 innings of work.
New York has been forced to throw out inexperienced pitchers such as Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner and Chase Wright. It has been a struggle to get any Yankees starter to survive past five innings and this has taken a considerable toll on the bullpen. If Wang, Mussina and Pavano do not return to pitch effectively it could be a long Summer in the Bronx.
There has been a litany of other quality pitchers who are sidelined with injuries and as a result their teams have struggled out of the gate. The most notable players are Jaret Wright, Jason Jennings, Cliff Lee, Eric Gagne, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior[now out for the season, again], Ricky Nolasco and Micah Owings.
While I can't find a common theme as to why there's such a high propensity of top major league pitchers getting hurt so early in the season, I believe that this issue needs to bring awareness to how these players condition themselves and how the teams treat their injuries. Many ball clubs do not report the entire truth about an injury and many players will attempt to rush back to play before they are fully healed.
If Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan is not healthy by the middle of June and if ace pitchers Chris Carpenter and Felix Hernandez can not be effective upon return their teams chance of being successful is shattered. Carpenter is the leader of the St.Louis's pitching staff and is the reliable arm who can win 15-17 games and post an ERA under four. King Felix appeared unhitable in his first two starts of 2007 and looked as if he was quickly transforming into the majors most exciting and successful young star.