This can generate velocity. No question. For someone who used little of his lower body in his mechanics, Pat Neshek was able to reach around 90-mph on his fastball. Still the real issue is, at what cost?
Kyle Boddy at DrivelineMechanics.com, on the other hand, is staunchly against it's use. Boddy used some weightlifting science to reaffirm his belief that scap loading is detrimental to a pitcher’s arm. Boddy writes: “For those people who are educated in the field of exercise science and weightlifting, they will all tell you that proper bench press form involves stopping when the elbow is right at (or just beyond) the shoulder line and no further. Why? It is simple: This position of shoulder horizontal abduction is mechanically weak.” Similar to Gomez, Boddy continues by referencing an article from Real Weight Lifting to educate why, mechanically, this is not suited for the body: “[I]magine you were lying on the bench press. Put your arms up in front of you and hold the imaginary bar. Flair your elbows out to 90 degrees, like most people do on the bench press. Now, pull your elbows back and stretch your chest as if you were lowering the bar down. You’ll find that it’s hard to pull your arms back past a certain point, and you feel a stiffness or tension in the back of your shoulders, behind the rear delt. That feeling is your rotator cuffs being compressed against your shoulder blades, and telling you that the shoulder is not meant to flex in that direction.”
Meanwhile Chris O’Leary, another pitching mechanics guru, believes that scap loading’s use falls somewhere in-between those stances. By his account, O'Leary suggests there to be a correct way to scap load and a dangerous way to scap load. In his dissertation on the practice, O’Leary identifies numerous pitchers whose mechanics have a variation of scap loading. On the list are Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and Tom Seaver. What trait all these pitchers’ share is that they keep their throwing elbow below their shoulder. The riskiest method of scap loading, says O’Leary, is just the opposite: when a pitcher raises his elbow above his shoulder line creating what he refers to as the inverted W. In the essay, O’Leary names several pitchers who are guilty of this method including Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Bonderman and Mark Prior. All of those pitchers have had extensive arm and shoulder issues and major corrective surgery (Tommy John and rotator cuff). Looking at the picture below, you can see Pat Neshek belongs in this group.
From the organization’s standpoint, the Twins have navigated through almost two complete seasons without his assistance and do not seem to be convinced that he will (1) return to his pre-injury form or (2) stay healthy. In fact, they built their bullpen anticipating future hiccups. Acquiring set-up Jon Rauch at the trade deadline in ’09 demonstrates this mentality. Unlike some of the other potential trade targets, Rauch’s contract extended through 2010 giving the organization additional cushion if Neshek never fully rebounds. Likewise, although some payroll could have been cut by allowing Jesse Crain walk, instead the Twins offered him arbitration. The Twins are prepared for life without Neshek.