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Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow and his 95-mph fastball need Tommy John surgery

May 29, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

Chris Withrow Dodgers Getty Images

Add another name to the list of the hard-throwing young pitchers needing Tommy John elbow surgery, as Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is headed under the knife.

Withrow has been fantastic since debuting for the Dodgers last season at age 24, posting a 2.73 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 56 innings while holding opponents to a .157 batting average. It doesn’t get much more dominant than that, especially when combined with a 95.7-mph average fastball.

Now he’ll be out until at least mid-2015 and the potentially extra-bad news for Withrow is that he was optioned back to Triple-A on May 21 to make room for Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 25-man roster and wasn’t called back up before being shut down with the injury. Which means, unless someone files a grievance on his behalf, Withrow won’t collect MLB service time or MLB paychecks while he’s rehabbing.

UPDATE: Withrow is indeed now on the MLB disabled list, so the above scenario won’t be an issue.

  1. dodger88 - May 29, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Sounds like he was placed on the MLB disabled list as he never officially reported to AAA.

  2. thetoolsofignorance - May 29, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    We all saw this coming when news of his DL stint broke on May 23. Also he IS on the MLB DL and has been since the 23rd. Dr. James Andrews suggested that pitchers never throw at 100% effort in his position paper on TJS and as I read that I was reminded of Withrow and his clearly max effort delivery so this news comes as no surprise at all. Disappointment and sorrow for the young man yes, but i’m not surprised. I hope he has a good re-hab and is back in Dodger blue asap

  3. captainwisdom8888 - May 29, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Everybody and their mother seems to need Tommy John Surgery these days. I hope that the coaches of youth baseball teams around the country (and the world for that matter) wise up and realize that over-working your star pitchers all for the sake of winning now…it just isn’t worth the damage that you’re potentially doing to these young guy’s futures.

    If you want to be the best baseball team you can be, you end up focusing entirely upon the present tense and what you can do to be your best RIGHT NOW…and for these coaches that often means starting a guy 2 games in a row, or simply starting him way too often. Big leaguers should think almost entirely in the present tense to be their best, but when we’re talking about youth baseball it’s different…because absolutely nothing is more important than these kid’s FUTURES.

  4. garybrian2014 - May 29, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    What’s going on with all he Tommy John surgery. 30 years ago, guys were pitching 250-300 innings a year and had no problem at all. Now you’ve got guys throwing 150-200 innings and then having to be shut down. Too many sliders, split finger pitches that are putting extra strain on the elbow.

    • paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      For 1, 30 years ago few guys averaged 90+ MPH on their FB

      • 2077james - May 29, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        And 2, guys are pitching more in their teens now without allowing their bodies to heal. These aren’t healthy ligaments suddenly getting damaged. From what I understand it’s years of gradual damage that’s occurring.

  5. notsofast10 - May 29, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    IMO or should I say I have my suspicions that PED’s are allowing pitchers to throw harder than their bodies and ligaments are supposed to throw and possibly even making the ligaments more brittle. Over the last 10 years there has been major jump in velocities and now we are seeing the results of the PED’s played out in Pitchers.

    • paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Here’s the thing. Steroid use has been common for decades and evidence suggests that steroid use exploded in the late 80s and early 90s. TJS only started to become really common the last few years. If steroid use is causing TJS, then you must think that pitchers have increased steroid use greatly over the last 3 years as TJS rates gone up recently. Rates were low through the 90s, went up to about 40 pitchers/year in 2000 and stayed at that level until 2009, when it jumped to 50 guys, and except for 1 year it looks like there will at least 49 surgeries each of that last 6 years. Do you think steroid use increased 5 years after testing began? Maybe, but we don’t really have any evidence of that do we?

      The more likely cause is emphasis on MPH and more guys pitching at or close to max effort all of the time (combined with heavy use in youth, HS, and NCAA). As noted in the report, most pitcher UCLs look like they wear out over time, they don’t usually just snap after being healthy, but after years of overuse.

      • notsofast10 - May 29, 2014 at 9:03 PM

        Yes, I think steroid use has increased tremendously in the last 5-8 years in pitchers. I think prior abuse was isolated to position players until pitchers started experimenting and seeing increased results in velocity.

      • notsofast10 - May 29, 2014 at 9:05 PM

        PED’s will increase strength in muscle but cannot increase the strength of ligaments! I believe muscles are getting stronger than the ligaments can handle!

      • notsofast10 - May 29, 2014 at 9:08 PM

        Oh yeah and Bud Selig’s testing program is a major joke. The users have way too much money and smarts and are always one step ahead of Bud’s Awesome testing program.
        Remember some of the biggest abusers, Bonds, McGuire, and even A Rod have never failed one of Bud’s Tests.

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