Blue Jays’ Daniel Norris: Dead Arm


The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays need their starting rotation to lead them through this season. More importantly, they need their starters healthy. This may be a bit of an issue with their 21 year old lefty. Daniel Norris had a bit of a rough start on Sunday when his Blue Jays faced the Atlanta Braves. He struggled with his command in a very short outing. His line was rather ugly. He lasted just 2.2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks and a strike out for 5 runs (4 earned).

While watching the game, it may have been clear that something was not right. Well, according to TSN’s Scott MacArthur, we may have our answer.

Apparently, this has been bothering him since the series in Montreal. Now, watching his performance, one could see that there was something lacking. But, dead arm? If you’re unfamilair with this often used term for pitchers “issues”, Norris offers an explanation.

Having dead arm may impact a pitchers ability to get the most out of their pitches. And, with the life that Norris can get on his fastball, this obviously is a concern. Now, Norris says that he has experienced this before and based on where he is right now, feels that he could be about to get over it. This would be great news for Blue Jays fans. Right now, it would appear that the starting rotation cannot handle any kind of significant loss. Already, the rotation is not looking very solid failing to go deep into games. This has put a strain on the bullpen and resulted in Jeff Francis taking the spot of Colt Hynes to provide a fresh arm that can chip in more innings. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

The “dead arm” phenomenon is quite a common one with the Cubs’ Jon Lester experiencing the same this spring. It happens quite often. And, in many cases it is not cause for concern. Norris himself seems to brush it off. And, while we have no reason to panic, there is some interesting thought about dead arm. Mike Sielski wrote for the Wall Street Journal back in 2011 about the “Dastardly ‘Dead Arm Syndrome”. His piece uses examples of pitchers suffering through dead arm, including former Yankees Phil Hughes and Jim Abbott. He quoted Dr Michael Hausman, then vice-chairman of orthopedics at Mount Sinai Hospital, as saying that the term “dead arm” has become a catch all phrase for a fairly unexplained issue with pitchers as well as position players.

“Usually, Hausman said, a pitcher who has a “dead arm” has a slight injury to his labrum, the rim of cartilage that keeps the shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint stable. The injury and the shoulder’s resulting instability might be so subtle that the pitcher wouldn’t sense any pain at all.”

Now, this is not to suggest that there is a more serious injury to Daniel Norris. If he has experienced this before, chances are he’ll be just fine. If it is indeed a period of lifelessness, Blue Jays fans will hope that it ends very quickly. If the Blue Jays follow their rotation schedule and do not alter it, Norris would get the start against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Perhaps the rest will help. If the Blue Jays are going to compete this season, they’ll need the best out of their young arms.

Next: Jays Journal Podcast: Episode 15