I had just written about the possibility of the New York Mets needing to keep and not trade starting pitcher Dillon Gee, even though he had been moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen. I mentioned that there may be an issue with starter Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler, who complained of elbow soreness last week, recently underwent an MRI. He’d had two clean MRI’s over the offseason, after some soreness last season, leading the Mets to be optimistic about the MRI results.
Unfortunately the Mets were overly optimistic as the results are now in. Wheeler has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He’ll be seeking a second opinion but nine times out of ten that means he is destined for Tommy John surgery.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 16, 2015
The Mets pushed Wheeler hard in 2014. At only 24 years old, Wheeler had 13 starts in which he threw 110 pitches or more in 2014, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig. That was more than any other pitcher in baseball under the age of 24. The next closest player of the same age had just six starts in which that number of pitches were thrown.
Still the Mets maintain that they did not push Wheeler too hard, although most people seem to disagree. It appears that Wheeler’s elbow disagrees with the team as well.
Mets say they were comfortable with how they handled Wheeler. Today, he’s got a torn ligament and might face TJ: http://t.co/0zT2iUGlVc
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) March 16, 2015
His ligament is now torn and there’s an extremely high chance that he will be going under the procedure that so many other have in the past few seasons.
According to MLBReports.com 11 pitchers underwent the procedure in 2010. That number skyrocketed to 24 in 2011 and to an astonishing 46 in 2012. The number dropped to 25 in 2013 and 29 in 2014 but those numbers are much too high. So many pitchers have undergone the surgery in this decade that it’s been called an epidemic.
There are others too who have needed season ending surgery this season other than Tommy John surgery. The Cleveland Indians have lost Gavin Floyd for the season to a right elbow fracture for example, and it is unclear how long into the season the Philadelphia Phillies’ will have pitcher Cliff Lee before he needs surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
We’ll have to wait to find out what the final decision is for Wheeler but that sad part is, that having to get a second opinion never brings good news.