Splitter and Elbow Injuries


#1

I’ve heard rumors out there that a split finger fastball is very hard on the elbow, since it strains the tendon that run from your hand, through your elbow, and into your shoulder. By splitting your index and forefingers, you put a strain on that tendon. Is this true, is there a good possibility of elbow injury in throwing a “splitter”?

For me personally, the splitter seems like the perfect pitch. I have a good, hard moving fastball with a natural sink with excellent control. I think that natural sink has made it difficult to master the slider and curveball, and I’ve struggled in finding an effective “out” pitch. I also seem to struggle with arm speed consistency in my secondary pitches (including a circle change). With a splitter, I don’t expect to to experience the same arm speed inconsistences and my natural sink should work well with the splitter. However, I am hesitant to incorporate the pitch if there’s a good chance of elbow injury.


#2

“I’ve heard rumors out there that a split finger fastball is very hard on the elbow, since it strains the tendon that run from your hand, through your elbow, and into your shoulder. By splitting your index and forefingers, you put a strain on that tendon. Is this true, is there a good possibility of elbow injury in throwing a “splitter”?”

While you can hurt yourself throwing any pitch, whether you hurt yourself or not doesn’t depend on whether your fingers are split or not. What matters is what your wrist, forearm, and elbow are doing.

If you throw a splitter while pronating your wrist, then it shouldn’t cause any more strain that a standard fastball.

It’s true that Bruce Sutter was a splitballer and his career was cut short by injuries. However, those injuries didn’t have anything to do with his throwing a split finger fastball. They had to do with his arm action.

In the same way, Fernando Valenzuela was a screwballer, but it wasn’t throwing a screwball that caused him his problems.


#3

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the splitter weakened the wrist, or atleast prevented young wrists from developing stronger. Thus the splitter shouldn’t be thrown till around 17 or so.


#4

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the splitter weakened the wrist, or atleast prevented young wrists from developing stronger. Thus the splitter shouldn’t be thrown till around 17 or so.”

Given how I understand it should be thrown (pretty much the same as a fastball), I’m not aware of any physiological reason why it should hurt the wrist.

My biggest question for a young pitcher who wanted to throw a splitter would be whether their fingers were long enough, and flexible enough, to grip the pitch properly.

Curveballs and sliders, thrown incorrectly (e.g. by supinating the forearm), can cause problems with the elbow. That’s why people tend to advise that you wait until after puberty to start throwing them.