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Stephen Strasburg has significant UCL tear, will likely require Tommy John surgery

Aug 27, 2010, 10:34 AM EDT

Well, this is just about the worst-case scenario for Nationals fans.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just announced that Stephen Strasburg will likely require Tommy John surgery after Thursday’s arthogram revealed a “significant tear” of the ulnar collateral ligament in his his right elbow.

Rizzo said the team believes the injury was “acute” and happened on one pitch, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

It sure sounds like he is headed for surgery, but Kilgore writes that he will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum, the same doctor who performed Tommy John surgery on Jordan Zimmermann.

Recovery time from Tommy John surgery is approximately 12-18 months, so we’ll almost certainly have to wait until 2012 until we see Strasburg again. The silver lining is that there are several examples of pitchers who have gone on to enjoy success after Tommy John surgery. Still, it’s a sobering and disappointing end to one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory. Let’s hope he doesn’t become yet another cautionary tale.

  1. Twinkietoes - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    I think a lot of this needs to be laid at the feet of the Nationals organization. I think they brought him up too early. If he had been drafted by an orginazation like Atlanta or Minnesota they would have kept him in the minors to asses his mechanics, work on his durability and teach him how to take car of his arm, before bringing him into the spotlight.

  2. Buffalo - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Deservingly so he didn’t make the AS Team! Any critic outside the DC Beltway called his TERRIBLE mechanics from the beginning! His upside-down arm motion (as they refer to it as) is what has cost him this injury undoubtedly. He coaching/pitching staff should have worked on mechanics first rather than ticket sales and maybe they would have been down the road on a rebuilding year next year. Now, they’ll still be talking about how to go about rebuilding next year and not well into the process.

  3. Utley's hair - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    Just because people assume and demand that these guys be ready, it doesn’t always pan out. Until he proves himself, Harper will be a top prospect. Right now, with his two DL stints in the three months he’s been up, and TJ surgery in the possibly very near future, who knows what will happen with Strasburg after he comes back?

    And our Werth-in-waiting Domonic Brown has moments when he looks glaringly unprepared in the field as well as at the plate. But then again, so does Werth. (Dammit, man, pay attention!!!!!)

  4. RichardInBigD - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Yep. Would have given everyone an indelible image to remember while they wait for him to return.

  5. CJ - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Do you know anything about pitching? At all? Injuries tend to screw with people mechanics. When one part of the arm is weak, they’ll change their motion/mechanics, albeit slightly, to avoid reinjury or regain the torque they may have lost.
    In the 08 world series Brad Lidge screwed up his knee, and never got it fixed. He had to change his motion in 09 which led to several arm issues that season. Yes, those were related, and they’re not even on the same arm. Get a clue.

  6. lgwelsh1 - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    The kid was not ready to come up to the big leagues, plain and simple. His mechanics needed to be worked on and this is a clear case of bringing up a young star into the spotlight to fast. This is a disaster not only for The Nationals but for MLB overall. He is a good kid with great skills, hopefully modern medicine can get him back in the game, if not this will go down as the worst thing to happen to a young professional athlete in any sport for years.

  7. MKO - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    I spoke to Dibble. He said he would check with Ted Williams.

  8. TominNH - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    The Nats overworked this kid, brought him up too early before his arm was ready! Now it’s come back and bit them right in the butt! I thought baseball people were smarter than that. They might just have ruied this kid before he ever really got started!

  9. MN Boise Fan - Aug 27, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Anybody ready to give Don Cooper his due? He saw this coming months ago and wasn’t afraid to voice that opinion. Somebody should have listened I guess.

  10. wrw0101 - Aug 27, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Cancel that Hall of Fame induction ceremony for now.

  11. JBerardi - Aug 27, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    I don’t know how many times I can say this: INVERTED W! INVERTED W! INVERTED W!

    http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/baseball/pitching/professionalpitcheranalyses/StephenStrasburg.html

    No surprises here.

  12. JBerardi - Aug 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Guy, a UCL tear doesn’t just happen overnight. It degrades over years. Having Strasburg pitch a few more inning wasn’t going to make a difference. If he needs the surgery today, nothing they did a week or a month ago was going to change that.

  13. JBerardi - Aug 27, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    Can we knock this shit off already? Who has ever seriously called Strasburg a sure-fire HOFer? This is a huge strawman.

  14. Florida727 - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    ESPN showed an interesting graphic this morning: NINE pitchers in this year’s All-Star game have had Tommy John surgery. It’s an obvious setback, but it also shows the kid can come back. Curt Schilling also did a nice piece on-air about how his mechanics differ from Josh Johnson’s and how those mechanics could have been a contributing factor. if true, makes you wonder why his minor league coach(es) didn’t pick up on the flaw…

  15. Kung - Aug 27, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    El Bravo, it sounds like you’re the one that needs to put down the Harper pipe. Let’s do what you say and take the top flight hitting talent that has come out of the US in recent years. Jason Heyward, Evan Longoria, Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Stanton. Just to name a few. They all spent at least a year and a half in the minors, if not two years and up. Also, you assume he’ll tear it up immediately. That’s quite the assumption.

  16. timmck - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    his minor league coaches didn’t pick up onit because he spent so little time “on the farm” and they were probably told not to mess with him. the phillies of the early 80’s/ 90’s had a lot of problems with stud college pitches, (tyler greene, pat combs, don carmen etc.) who’s college coches over used and or misused them and by the time they were drafted they were spent or shortly injured.

  17. Babedolll - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Good! That’ll teach them to sign an unproven athlete for millions of dollars. I can’t stand him or his agent and hope they both learned their lesson. No one is in flappable. He’s done! Another Kerry Wood.

  18. alan69 - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    What bad news. I wish him the best in his surgery and recovery. Hang in there! Hope you are back in full form in 2012. Sounds like an eternity. He’s a great young talent and boost to the game of baseball.

  19. alan69 - Aug 27, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    Babedolll,
    Well, welcome to reality, every athelete drafted is signed for incredible amounts of dollars. The rest of your comment is deplorable. You are just jealous. Get lost.

  20. alan69 - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Learn what a ligament is, dilwad, then try to do something with one torn. Ligaments, once torn, do not heal. Tendons do.

  21. Chris O'Leary - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    I’ve seen my name come up a few times in the context of Strasburg, and some inaccurate things said about his injury, so I thought I’d weigh in on a few things.
    1. A UCL tear is NEVER due to one pitch. Instead, the last pitch is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Of course, this won’t prevent people from labeling the change-up — and probably the screwball — a killer pitch when in truth the slider is a much more likely culprit.
    2. The Inverted W puts a huge amount of strain on the entire arm, and it’s hard to predict whether the elbow or shoulder will fail first. In Mark Prior’s case, his shoulder failed first. In Anthony Reyes’ case, his elbow failed first (although his shoulder was barking like Strasburg’s). The shoulder strain was just a symptom of the strain he was putting on his arm. The shoulder strain did not cause the elbow problem.
    3. Clearly Tom House’s pitching mechanics model is flawed, or at least incomplete, if both Mark Prior and Stephen Strasburg can had perfect to good mechanics and still fall apart.
    4. Some of this IS likely due to the Nats pushing Strasburg too hard, but most of it is due to his mechanics.
    5. I would not pick up Strasburg when he returns unless he changes his arm action and either drops the slider or dramatically reduces his usage of the slider.

  22. Babedolll - Aug 27, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Naaneee Naneee boo boo! Jealous! HA ! Is that the only word in your vocabulary? No Alan you freak show, they signed him for bag loads of money (think Sam Bradford). I’m waiting for that bozo to be a failure too.

  23. Lipper - Aug 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    Way to go Riggleman…First Kerry Wood, now this kid.

  24. alan69 - Aug 27, 2010 at 9:24 PM

    Babedoll,
    Like calling names, do ya? Yes, I think jealous is a perfect description of you. If you were good looking you would probably be chasing these guys around, hoping to snag one of them, like most other gold-diggers. You are just an idiot for both of your posts.

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