After an article on FanGraphs last week put a scare into our expectations for Matt Harvey‘s return from Tommy John surgery, the Wall Street Journal compiles evidence that in fact they return quite the same and in many cases better in their post TJS careers.
Michael Salfino writes:
In fact, all of the noteworthy starters since 2006 who have undergone the procedure have posted a combined 3.83 ERA and 7.9 K/9 since the operation, versus 3.82 and 7.1 before.
One of the pitchers who did worse their first year back after surgery, Francisco Liriano, posted 16 wins and a 3.02 ERA last season for the playoff-bound Pirates. But to me, the big name there is Strasburg who is once again one of the best in the league.
Last week, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs posted the following in his piece regarding Tommy John surgery:
Tommy John surgery isn’t shoulder labrum surgery, and the surgeons who perform it know the procedure like the backs of their hands. But it’s not just a 12-month delay, even if that’s maybe the most usual outcome. There can be setbacks, and there can be major setbacks. Ligaments can be re-torn. Elbows can otherwise need to be re-opened. Of course it’s never good news when a pitcher requires ligament replacement surgery, but on top of the loss of a year, there can be a loss of a lot more than that.
Nobody can predict what will or will not happen in the future with regards to Harvey. There can be speed bumps just as there are with all manners of reconstructive surgery.
However, the majority of Tommy John surgeries have led to successful outcomes, and that’s what is important to note.
The other thing is that as each new Tommy John surgery is performed, new and better procedures are implemented as surgeons continue to learn more. It is a science that continues to evolve and improve and thus we are seeing more and more pitchers throwing off a mound in less than 12 months. The surgical procedure has leaped light years in it’s advancement.