Here is a really interesting article that examines recent research into the relationship between the height of the pitcher's mound, and injuries, particularly shoulder injuries due to the strain on the rotator cuff due to the angle. Not being a physiologist, I can't explain the science (click on the link and check it out), but the authors note Nolan Ryan preferred to pitch from ground level between starts, which they believe may have at least partially contributed to his amazing ability to throw so hard for so long. If this stuff is confirmed, I wonder if it will have an impact at least at the amateur level. I also wonder if subsequent research would be able to find a threshold level that would allow for elevation, but without any increased risk of injury (say, for example, six inches), and would MLB go for that. In any event, another really interesting bit of research being conducted!
When I consider the matter further, I would think that MLB would be on board for some lowering of the mound, if it could be shown that the reduction in height would reduce injuries without seriously impacting the game. I mean, think about the salaries many of these teams have to pay to guys who are shells of their former selves because of rotator cuff and other problems. The Cubs, for example, ought to be sponsoring this type of research!
Here is a bit of the article to check out. Click on the link above to read the whole thing:
"We found that compared to flat ground, pitchers using a 10-inch mound experience an increase in superior shear and adduction torque in the shoulder - meaning there's a greater amount of stress on the joint surface and surrounding structures. That greater stress may result in injury to the shoulder including tearing of the rotator cuff or labrum which may result in surgery and long-term rehabilitation. It also can make it difficult for the athlete to replicate the same throw and develop a consistent strike," Dr. Raasch says.
"The most notable kinematic difference was the increase in shoulder external rotation at foot contact. This probably represents a change in the timing of the foot contact relative to arm position, because the foot lands earlier in the pitch delivery during flat ground throwing than with a slope," he says.