Last Saturday, Stephen Strasburg delivered a 1-1 pitch to the Phillies Domonic Brown and immediately winced in pain and tried to shake off the pain. He then motioned for the trainers to come out and eventually left the game. Every Nationals fan, every baseball fan hoped for the best. The first report was that Strasburg had a flexor strain in his right forearm and was placed on the disabled list. Everyone started to breathe a little easier, except for the team doctor. The team doctor ordered an MRI after the swelling of the injury went down and what they found was devastating. They found a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of Strasburg’s right arm. An injury that will likely require Tommy John surgery and put Strasburg on the DL for the rest of this year and into next season as well.
Tommy John surgery is a procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. Often they look to the foot, knee, hamstring or forearm for the tendon. The term Tommy John is something that no pitcher ever wants to hear. For most pitchers, it takes a year to rehab themselves and when they do come back, they don’t seem to have the same velocity or movement. About 75% of pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery come back successfully. When they return you can tell something is missing. The fact that Strasburg is so young is going to help him out immensely.
Strasburg had only had 12 starts this season for the Nationals and was the leader in strikeouts at 92. He was electrifying to watch and everyone, not just Nationals fans, we’re enamored with him. He was the addition to the “year of the pitcher” that would slam the door on hitters. He didn’t have just one bread and butter pitch, but a four pitch arsenal. I know I am not alone is wishing nothing but the best for this remarkable young man.
As my good buddy Jerod put it today on Twitter, “Wow, Tommy John surgery probable for Stephen Strasburg. That sucks…not just for Nats fans, for all of us.”.