The Tommy John Epidemic

On the podcast this week, we had a new segment called “This Week in Tommy John” it was just meant to be a joke really on how many players it seems are going to go under the knife this season.  With Kyle Drabek’s official announcement that he would have to get the surgery for a second time, we have now reached TWENTY pitchers since the start of 2012 Spring Training that have had to have work done on their elbow.  Braves Brandon Beachy and Blue Jays Drew Hutchison could be victims #21 and #22 in just a matter of days.   Last season there were just 14 players in the Majors that were subjected to Tommy John surgery.   Here’s a complete breakdown of the pitchers that are missing the rest of this season, in order of undergoing surgery.

Joel Zumaya, Twins

No surprise that Zumaya who has had an injury-plagued career was the first on the list this season way back in spring training.

Arodys Vizcaino, Braves

Joakim Soria, Royals

This was a huge blow to the Royals as they were looking to contend with a quality bullpen.  Jonathan Broxton has filled in admirably in the closers role for Kansas City, but having Soria with Broxton, Greg Holland, Tim Collins, and Aaron Crow would’ve possibly been the best bullpen in the American League.

Sergio Escalona, Astros

Ryan Madson, Reds

A free agent signing for the Reds in the offseason.  Madson will possibly never pitch in a regular season game for Cincinnati as he was signed to just a one-year deal.  Like in Kansas City, Cincinnati potentially had a great bullpen before the injury.

Jose Ceda, Marlins

Joey Devine, Athletics

The perpetual “closer of the future” Devine’s injuries have kept him away from the Majors.

Michael Kohn, Angels

Scott Baker, Twins

Baker was the ace of the Twins pitching staff with a 3.14 ERA in the 2011 season.  This has helped lead to a depleted Twins rotation that has had to rely on three rookies and Francisco Liriano.  Helps explain why they’re in the basement of the AL Central.

Brian Wilson, Giants

The 3rd closer on this list.  Thankfully, Wilson’s beard doesn’t have a UCL to tear.

Mike Pelfrey, Mets

George Sherrill, Mariners

Tsuyoshi Wada, Orioles

Danny Duffy and Blake Wood, Royals

The Royals have been hit the hardest with three players needing Tommy John surgery so far this season.

Cory Luebke, Padres

Big things were expected out of Luebke in San Diego after a breakout 2011 season.  Instead, we’ll see if he can bounce back in 2013.

Marcos Mateo, Cubs

Andrew Carignan, Athletics

Charlie Morton, Pirates

Morton had changed his game to emulate Roy Halladay in 2011 and had his best season in the Majors.  It’s possible that changing his strategy helped contribute to this injury.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays

That’s the whole list of twenty pitchers.  Beachy and Hutchison are waiting in the wings to be added to the list.  The three words “Dr. James Andrews” and the three letters “UCL” are quickly becoming the scariest things in the game of baseball.  What do teams need to do to help prevent this from occurring?

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)


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