Another major league pitcher appears headed for a lengthy DL stint due to Tommy John surgery. The Yankees’ Ivan Nova left Friday’s game with an apparent elbow injury. An MRI revealed a partial tear his UCL. He was immediately placed on the Disabled List and will be reevaluated on Monday. The prognosis is not favorable however. The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is generally 12-18 months but most players do make a full recovery.
Since the end of last season twenty players on the 40 man rosters of major league teams have undergone Tommy John Surgery. The Atlanta Braves lost two fifths of their rotation (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) to the surgery during spring training. The Mets lost last season’s National League All Star Game starting pitcher Matt Harvey and this season lost their closer Bobby Parnell to the procedure. The procedure has spread through the majors in epidemic like proportions. The reasons for the uptick in the number of surgeries, especially on young pitchers, is unclear. If you ask twenty baseball people the reason, you will likely have twenty difference answers. The beliefs range from throwing too much to throwing not enough to PEDS to weight lifting to increased ability to spot partial tears sooner.
As for the Yankees, this creates a big hole in their starting rotation. The Yankees were counting on Ivan Nova to take a big step forward and finally complete a full season with the big league club and improve his consistency. Now the Yankees will need to find someone to take his place in the rotation between Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka. During Spring Training, the Yankees had David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno competing for the fifth starter position with eventual winner Michael Pineda, however, the decision to keep all three with major league club means they are no longer stretched out and able to take the starter job right away. Nuno will be starting the Easter Sunday game against Tampa with a pitch count of 75. At AAA, the Yankees have Alfredo Aceves who was recently promoted from AA to AAA after signing with the team at the beginning of the month. Looking towards the rest of the season, Manny Baneulos might be a possibility as well as he returns from Tommy John surgery himself. They will also scour the trade market in hopes of adding another arm by the trade deadline.