LADY AT THE BAT: Theories & Mysteries Surrounding Tommy John Surgery

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Theories & Mysteries Surrounding Tommy John Surgery

Though the season has yet to begin, a number of players are already scheduled to go under the knife for Tommy John Surgery this year. The latest victim, of course, is the Mets' Zack Wheeler.

The torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) seems to be aiming to rival such things as the 1918 Flu Pandemic or the Black Death. During those horrors people dropped like flies and no one knew why. Today, pitchers are dropping like flies and no one, it seems, knows why.

There are theories, of course: 1) Pitchers are throwing too much. 2) Pitchers aren't throwing enough. 3) Pitchers threw too much when they were kids. 4) Pitchers didn't throw enough in the minor leagues. 5) Pitchers throw too hard. 6) Pitchers don't throw hard enough. Some of these theories are mentioned here in a very informative article about TJ Surgery.

I guess you have to take these things on a case-by-case basis. When it happens to a young pitcher like the Marlins' Jose Fernandez or the Mets' Wheeler or Matt Harvey, you could say it was a combination of number 4 and 5. Masahiro Tanaka's torn UCL is probably a combination of 1 and 2. He pitched once a week in Japan, then had to get used to pitching every five days in the States.

Then there are the complete mysteries: The Rangers' Yu Darvish and the Yankees' Ivan Nova come to mind. This is definitely not a cut-and-dry issue.

If they haven't already done so, MLB needs to set up a committee to get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, if this continues, we could find ourselves in danger of losing, not just pitchers, but the game itself.

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