Donny Murray Makes History with No-Hitter

This particular DVS Success Story happens to be an historic one, as it relates to the first no-hitter thrown in the history of the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL). Even though the history of the league is brief in its inaugural year, a no-hitter is something to marvel at, particularly at the professional level. Combine this with 13 punch-outs and only three walks, and you have something even more special. 

 
Watch the final out of the first no hitter in history of the United Shore Professional Baseball League.
 

The man at the center of all this is a pitcher named Donny Murray. Donny is a Massachusetts product, and attended Holy Cross University where he became a standout pitcher. His collegiate success earned him two, back-to-back stints in the Cape Cod League during his sophomore and junior year summers. However, due to inconsistencies on the mound and some trouble with his command, he was passed up in the MLB Draft at the end of his senior year. As a result, he decided to take a year off back at home in Massachusetts and focus solely on pitching. As many aspiring players do now days, Donny said he felt the need to improve his velocity in order to make it to the next level, so he sought out training methods that had ties to velocity improvement. Heavy weight lifting, weighted balls, and a mindset of trying to be "short and explosive" were some of the staples within his off-season program.

 

Donny Murray's initial pitching delivery during spring training

 

All of this arguably culminated into what you see in the video above. A short, max-burst pattern that reflected the mindset of trying to throw as hard as humanly possible, which is in-line with what Donny told us when we asked. Although much can be said of the issues regarding the mechanical pattern portrayed here, the larger problems relate to his mindset as a pitcher, and what he thought he needed to do to become successful.

Before I elaborate on that, let me give you the backstory on how Donny initially got his tryout (shown above), which eventually led to him getting signed by the Unicorns. Donny had spoken with Brian Berryman, Executive Director of Baseball Operations for the USPBL, on the phone days before his audition, and Berryman told him to get a plane ticket. What we didn't find out until later, that plane ticket was one-way, which shows some brass, and gives you some insight into the type of guy Donny is. Within hours of his initial conversation with Berryman, Donny was in Michigan preparing to throw his bullpen. Unfortunately, it's this preparation process that you don't see, as it relates to one of the largest problems surrounding the current throwing culture.

Instead of running through dry-work, properly activating the muscles in his shoulder, or syncing his pattern off the mound before throwing, Donny utilized his time throwing a weighted ball against a brick wall and running through a basic band routine. Just like he thought he needed to do when trying to get drafted, Donny embodied a mindset that placed training the arm and velocity first. Not that velocity isn't necessary, but it's the fact that players think they need to do more to attain it, and therein lies the problem. More weight. More strength. More effort. As a product of this, he placed value in a training a mindset that yielded potentially very little extra in exchange for substantial risk. Take a look at his shoulder range-of-motion (ROM) patterns within 24 hours of completing his initial bullpen of about 30 pitches. 

 
 This is a screenshot taken from our central ROM database. Murray shows two main risk factors in Glenohumeral External Rotation Difference (ER DIFF) and Total Arc Motion Difference (TAM DIFF). Ideally, ER DIFF should be greater than or equal to 5, and TAM DIFF should be greater than or equal to -5.

This is a screenshot taken from our central ROM database. Murray shows two main risk factors in Glenohumeral External Rotation Difference (ER DIFF) and Total Arc Motion Difference (TAM DIFF). Ideally, ER DIFF should be greater than or equal to 5, and TAM DIFF should be greater than or equal to -5.

 

Post throwing, Donny exemplified two major risk factors that that increased his likelihood of injury by nearly 475%; all a product of excess stress, endured from both his previous training regimen, and a faulty throwing pattern that consisted of inefficient energy transfer and poor timing.

Injury risk aside, Donny performed well enough to warrant a professional contract from Unicorns manager Greg Grall. Donny threw 90-91 mph (just like he said he would by the way), showed an average breaking ball, commanded his fastball and was signed the next day. Donny joined the Unicorns, and was initially slotted to pitch out of the bullpen in short relief.  

 

Donny Murray's pitching delivery during his No-Hitter

 

Shown above is a video of Donny pitching during his no-hitter. Notice anything different? Better rhythm? Better timing? More fluid? I would say yes to all three. Greg Grall, manager of the Unicorns, thought so as well. "I started noticing these changes in Donny a few weeks ago, which is why we moved him into the starting rotation," Grall said. "Initially, we had him categorized as more of a max-effort, late inning guy by the way he threw, but the way he's pitching now allows for sustainability."  

However, perhaps the largest difference here isn't present to the eye, as it relates to his mindset and how he now trains as a pitcher. We only know this because not only do we communicate with Donny on a regular basis, but we also have controlled every aspect of his training for the past seven weeks. And as some of you may know, the DVS System doesn't place a direct emphasis on velocity, however, by focusing on mechanical efficiency, joint health, and improving functionality within the throwing arm, velocity follows. Below is Donny's velocity chart from every game he's pitched in this season. 

 
 Donny Murray's velocity chart from our central database.

Donny Murray's velocity chart from our central database.

 

As you can see, Donny's velocity has remained constant, regardless of the fact that he's actually doing much less direct training with his arm. Rather, he now trains his arm as a product of his pitching delivery, so not only does he get the performance benefits of throwing, but he does so while maximizing his repeatability through the USPBL Throwing Program. This program, which we implement daily with each and every player, forces players to repeat their game-like pattern through customized throwing distances. In Donny's case, this has been extremely valuable by allowing him to focus on repeatability and consistency, two vital traits for success as a pitcher, while secondarily conditioning is arm.

Donny’s velocity has remained constant, regardless of the fact that he’s actually doing much less direct training with his arm. Rather, he now trains his arm as a product of his pitching delivery, so not only does he get the performance benefits of throwing, but he does so while maximizing his repeatability through the USPBL Throwing Program.
 
  This is a screenshot taken from our central ROM database. Murray showed no risk factors in Glenohumeral External Rotation Difference (ER DIFF) and Total Arc Motion Difference (TAM DIFF). Ideally, ER DIFF should be greater than or equal to 5, and TAM DIFF should be greater than or equal to -5.

This is a screenshot taken from our central ROM database. Murray showed no risk factors in Glenohumeral External Rotation Difference (ER DIFF) and Total Arc Motion Difference (TAM DIFF). Ideally, ER DIFF should be greater than or equal to 5, and TAM DIFF should be greater than or equal to -5.

 

These changes were further substantiated when we looked at his shoulder ROM patterns within 24 hours after his most recent start (shown above). Compared to his previous bullpen in which he only threw around 30 pitches and came away with two major risk factors, Murray showed zero risk factors after this most recent outing. (game + warm-up). What's even more impressive is that he exemplified these patterns while more than quadrupling his number of high intensity throws at 130 total pitches (game + warm-up). Not only that, but he hadn't even extended himself beyond four innings in over six months, so he certainly wasn't conditioned to throw that many pitches. Although this may seem strange considering his ROM measurements after his initial bullpen, keep in mind that Donny has drastically reduced the amount of stress going through his arm on a daily basis. Through the use of appropriate throwing guidelines, sound mechanical adjustments, and the DVS Arm Care System, Donny has been able to maintain a higher level of functionality within his throwing arm. As a result, he was able to throw a higher volume of pitches without the injurious effects.

“In the short amount of time we have had Donny, he has made significant strides from going to reliever to starter, re-working his delivery from the windup and other mechanical adjustments. It was very impressive to see Donny handle the high pitch count no-hitters normally dictate in such a small amount of time going from his smaller reliever pitch counts. Using his adjustments in his delivery, Donny was able to create the energy more efficiently in his large muscle groups,(legs and core) and take the stress off of his arm and shoulder. There is still much room for growth in Donny’s delivery but seeing him make those adjustments in this amount of time, and have that pay off with a no-hitter was awesome.”
— Shane McCatty, Utica Unicorns Pitching Coach

Make no mistake, no one is here to take credit for this young man's accomplishments, but rather to illuminate his changes and transformations, and how those changes relate to both health and performance. Overall, since joining the USPBL seven weeks ago and becoming saturated within the DVS System, Murray has improved his DVS Score by 3 points, which has taken him out of the extreme risk category, increased his shoulder flexibility by an average 7º (162º to 169º), and reduced his likelihood of sustaining a throwing related injury by 150% (-7.3 to 2.8) on average. All of this while sustaining his velocity. 

In closing, we want to congratulate Donny a final time on his huge accomplishment, and we will continue to encourage him, just like every other young, aspiring player, to "focus on mechanical efficiency, repeatability, and joint health, and as a product of those, you will find confidence, velocity, and success." 

- Will

 

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