Yesterday an interesting article came online via the Mercury News and Giants beat writer, Andrew Baggarly. The article centered around Noah Lowry and his latest health issue. The once changeup-tossing lefty went under the knife yesterday for yet another surgery. Lowry was battling pain in his shoulder and neck, and the surgery (which will remove a rib on his left side) should address that issue.
The article notes that:
Specialists recently diagnosed Lowry with thoracic outlet syndrome, wherein nerves and/or blood vessels are compressed as they pass between the neck and shoulder. Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers are among major league pitchers who have been diagnosed with the arterial form of the syndrome; they were able to resume their careers after the removal of their first rib to alleviate compression.
It’s no doubt been a frustrating last couple of years for Lowry. A strained oblique cost him a portion of his 2006 season and in 2007 he went down with forearm problems that proved to be a real roadblock to getting back on the field. Meanwhile, Lowry’s agent is stating that the Giants medical staff misdiagnosed Lowry’s initial forearm problem making his recovery needlessly long.
From an ESPN piece on Lowry:
Damon Lapa, Lowry’s agent, said Tuesday that Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Greg Pearl confirmed the diagnosis in separate consultations with Lowry last week. Lapa said the circulatory issue was the source of Lowry’s forearm tightness in August 2007 and a mysterious control meltdown in spring training of 2008, but that the Giants’ medical staff failed to identify the problem.
“Quite honestly, there’s a sense of relief. Dr. Andrews and Dr. Pearl have been able to provide answers that the Giants have not been able to provide since Noah got hurt in the fall of 2007,” Lapa told ESPN.com. “The two doctors have confirmed the condition and let us know that it’s existed since 2007 and essentially been misdiagnosed.”
Lowry (and his agent) aren’t happy with the medical treatment that they received from the Giants but it makes me wonder, how many 2nd, 3rd, etc. medical opinions did they receive for Lowry’s condition? Doctors, team trainers, and health professionals aren’t infallible. They make mistakes sometimes. But, did Lowry consult with more than professional in regards to his ailments? I would assume that he did. Athletes make too much money with their bodies and it doesn’t make much sense to not explore more than one diagnosis.
In the end, Lowry’s career with the Giants is most likely over. He’s got a $6.25M option with the Giants after the season but the team will surely decline the option making Lowry a free agent for the first time in his career. And, from Lowry’s perspective, it doesn’t make sense to try and sign back with the Giants on some sort of minor league deal. The G’s are fairly loaded with pitching talent right now and even if Lowry was to regain his health, chances are there’s little room for him in the rotation. He’ll have to move elsewhere if he wants to start.
Finally, Game Scores are a Bill James invention which attempts to measure how well a pitcher did during a single game. Each pitcher starts the game with 50 points and is credited points (by striking out hitters, throwing more innings, etc.) or debited points (giving up hits, runs, walk’s, etc.) by their game actions. The higher the Game Score, the better the game.
Here’s Noah Lowry’s Top-5 Game Scores during his time with the Giants. The Game Score is in parenthesis.
1. (88) August 8th, 2004 vs. Cincinnati: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 S0
2. (88) August 21st, 2006 vs. Arizona: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
3. (80) August 6th, 2005 vs. Houston: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO
4. (79) September 22nd, 2004 vs. Houston: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
5. (79) August 22nd, 2005 vs. Philadelpia: 8.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
I think it’s pretty telling that 4 of Lowry’s top 5 starts came in August — a month in which he owned a career ERA of 3.17. Lowry always seemed to thrive in August. When I think about vintage Lowry, I can still remember that awesome changeup. Definitely one of the better changeups from a Giants pitcher — when he had it — in recent times. Which brings me to today’s’ comment starter.
Comment Starter: In honor of Lowry, how does his changeup rank among Giants pitchers that you’ve seen?