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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. ThatGuy - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    Ouch… thats awful

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Sad news for Strasburg, his family, and for the Nats fans. They had promising look to 2011, with Harper and some young talent. Now they will likely have to wait until 2012.

  3. okobojicat - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Sad news for all of baseball. It was awesome to watch him pitch. Let’s hope they’re over reacting and he’ll be fine.

  4. Kung - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    Harper would not have been up in 2011 anyways. Probably won’t arrive until 2013 at the earliest.

  5. mattjg - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    Too bad. Gotta feel bad for the kid and Nats fans out there.
    What effect, if any, will this have on the Strasburg’s arbitration and free agency dates?

  6. Michael - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Has anyone asked Rob Dibble for his opinion yet?

  7. Purdueman - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    This is not only bad for Stephan, it’s also terrible news for the Nats and baseball. This guy has been like a breath of fresh air for both this season.

  8. dlf - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    Time on the DL is included in calculating eligibility for FA / Arbitration, so this won’t affect when those events happen unless he is optioned back to the minors for more than just a few rehab starts.

  9. SadPandaRevolt - Aug 27, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    @Michael
    I asked. Dibble said: “Psh! A UCL!? He whined his way out of pitching for that!? Now he’s gonna go get surgery instead of tuoghing it out? UNREAL! What a pussy!”

  10. mattjg - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Good to know. That really sucks for the Nats.

  11. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Even Mark Prior had one Hall of Fame year before he went down. He got hit with a batted ball, had shoulder problems, and had Achilles tendon problems so his injuries were much different than what we have here. Here’s hoping it just costs him 2011 and he comes back strong in 2012. I agree with Purdueman that he was a breath of fresh air that we haven’t seen since Prior in 2002/3.

  12. Simon DelMonte - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    Man, that just sucks. Bad news for all involved, including every fan who really wanted to see this young man live up to the potential.
    The good news is that it seems like Tommy John surgery is usually very successful.

  13. Utley's hair - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Anybody find Jim Bunning for comment? He’s bound to be signing autographs on the Senate floor while inexplicably holding up some bill or another.

  14. CJ - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    Hear that? That’s the sound of somebody getting fired in the Nats organization. Once they put him on the DL they should have shut him down for the year. His return, even if this didn’t happen, wouldn’t have proved or accomplished anything whatsoever (except better attendance at the games he would have started). I couldn’t believe they let him pitch again this year, and of course they pay the ultimate price.
    Though I feel terrible for Strasburg, I have no sympathy for such a poorly run organization, who tried to make a few bucks in the short term and in doing so jeopardizing his health. I hope they made enough dough in those couple of starts to make up for all the starts he’ll miss the rest of this year and a big chunk of next season.
    Not to mention, Adam Dunn CERTAINLY isn’t coming back now.

  15. Jonny5 - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Man what a sissy, he needs to grow a set!!! Now who’s a wimp for leaving the game again ???

  16. Ditto65 - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    I wish he would have made the all-star team before this happened.

  17. mike wants wins - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Bummer. One of the few players I would tune in to watch. It’s a bummer for him, for the Nats, for their fans, and for all baseball fans. And, we didn’t need this to prove Dibble was an idiot, but it helps reinforce the knowledge.

  18. BC - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Mark Prior redux. That’s too bad.

  19. El Bravo - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    What crack are you smoking? Harper will undoubtedly debut next year assuming he tears it up in the minors for awhile…batters come up way earlier than pitchers normally b/c they need less time to develop (when they are good, like Harper). Take a look at the biggest batters out there from the U.S. and it will prove my point, not even getting into the young good batters from Latin America. Put the pipe down son and pick up a clue.

  20. Preston - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    He went on the DL for an inflamed right shoulder earlier (and by all accounts was ready far earlier than the 15 days he was on the DL – they were already being cautious); this is an elbow injury (that, as they say, probably happened on one pitch). I’d say chances are very high the two are completely unrelated. If they shut him down due to a minor ache in mid-July, they’d have had to shut him down in mid-August next year because of his innings count – unless he got another minor injury, in which case maybe they shut him down in May by your logic? This is ridiculous.

  21. The Real Shuxion - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    Suck it up you little Bitch.
    -Jim Bunning

  22. okobojicat - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Thanks Preston. My reply to CJ was unprintable…

  23. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    El Bravo, easy now. Harper might not be ready. You need to make sure any hitter develops patience and can hit big league quality stuff. You want them to develop at different levels. Even Harper. But since he already has a big league contract, methinks he’ll get his cup o tea in September as a nice monetary push for the Nats whether dude is hitting well or not.
    And any statistics or proof that hitter reach quicker than pitchers? Or are you just making an assumption and presenting it as fact?

  24. APBA Guy - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Stephania Bell had a great article, as always, in the fantasy page of the worldwide leader discussing the pronator tendon and its relationship to the other ligaments in the elbow area. Her conclusion was basically that when there’s smoke (forearm strain, known pronator problem) there’s fire (ie TJ surgery) because of the stress load on these small tendons and ligaments and the frequency of failure. A good earlier example was Ben Sheets, who went in for a pronator problem but then had TJ once he was opened up.
    So now baseball and us fantasy folks have 12-18 months to wait for an outcome. As the comments above have noted, it’s bad for everyone, especially the young man, who has been everything you want in a young pitcher. Amazing how TJ is a near certainty for young pitchers. Anytime Brett Anderson has a whiff of discomfort, he’s on the DL for a month. So far that approach has avoided TJ, but when you see him snap off those hard sliders, you just light another candle and pray.

  25. geoknows - Aug 27, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Why exactly did his earlier shoulder inflammation cause a UCL tear? Beyond the fact that both the elbow and the shoulder are in the same arm there is exactly zero connection between the two injuries. Learn anatomy before you start chopping off heads.

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