Aug 11, 2009, 1:47 PM EDT
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, on Jordan Zimmermann needing Tommy John elbow surgery:
The small bit of sunshine is that there’s an 85 to 90 percent success rate with pitchers recovering to their pre-injury status after Tommy John surgery. It’s a much higher success rate than shoulder surgery. We’ve got a lot of depth in our young starting pitching, but Jordan was the prize pupil. We’ll have him back, full go, for spring training 2011, though he may pitch sometime in 2010. But you’ll see the real Zimmermann in 2011.
Rizzo is right to call Zimmermann the Nationals’ prize pupil among young pitchers, at least until Stephen Strasburg possibly signs later this week. Zimmermann put together an extremely promising 16-start debut, posting a 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91 innings despite pitching some of that time with elbow soreness. For a 23-year-old rookie who essentially skipped Triple-A that qualifies as excellent, so hopefully Rizzo is also right about Zimmerman making a full recovery for 2011.
My guess is that Rizzo quoting the “85-90 percent success rate with pitchers recovering to their pre-injury status after Tommy John surgery” is a slight overstatement, but the surgery definitely has an amazing success rate at this point. However, as a Twins fan who’s watched Francisco Liriano sadly go from the best pitcher on the planet to struggling just to be another mid-rotation starter after going under the knife I can tell you that nothing is guaranteed.
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