Angels might have to send Shohei for surgery
June 12, 2018 3:02 AM
by Ramon Scott
We’ve seen the timeline in regards to pitchers and UCL injuries and the results usually aren’t good.
Medical updates and rumors surrounding pitchers’ ulnar collateral ligament elbow injuries almost always end up getting treatment under the Dr. Frank Jobe surgery tree.
The latest big name that could be headed for the dreaded Tommy John surgery is Angels’ star Shohei Ohtani, who less than three months ago was being lauded as the next Babe Ruth, or something like that.
Now, if things don’t turn around for the Japanese newcomer, he could be out for the next year and a half, and wouldn’t make his return until possibly the start of the 2020 season. For now, Ohtani is undergoing stem cell injections and receiving platelet-rich plasma for his Grade 2 strain.
The Angels knew the risks of acquiring Ohtani. After all, Ohtani received similar treatment late last year to treat a then-Grade 1 strain. This treatment could work again, but it is often short term when it comes to the length of a potential playing career.
When playing with fire, a pitcher is just one random exertion from being just another one of the 25 percent of major league pitchers that have undergone the game’s most famous operation.
Sports medical experts mostly recommend a complete shutdown of activities while nursing a Grade 2-type UCL strain, including batting. The old consensus was pitchers always came back stronger after repairing the elbow surgically, but that popular theory may have been debunked by long-term results that seem to show an usual deterioration of overall effectiveness.
There are still many cases where athletes have returned to competition and even returned to play at a high-caliber level, but for every exception are dozens, if not hundreds, of stories that trickle down to the college and high school level where young players hold promise to continue their fading career by opting for TJ surgery.
For Ohtani, the case is more likely when than if.
Elsewhere, Nationals’ star Stephen Strasburg, who certainly worked his way back from a UCL tear to achieve success, was headed to the disabled list with an inflamed shoulder. The news was a relief to the pitcher and the team that there was no shoulder damage, but it was an inflamed shoulder that sidelined then-rookie Strasburg in 2010. Just a month later when he returned to action, he suffered the tear, which took him out of action for a year. He also was shut down for the postseason in 2012 as an injury precaution.
The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (back) is on track for a return early next month after throwing with high intensity from 60 feet on Sunday.
METS (+120, 8.5o15) at BRAVES (Wed, 9:10): Twenty-year-old Mike Soroka (lat) will be activated from a month-long stint on the DL. The rookie faced the Mets in his ML debut on May 1, allowing one run over six innings, but will be limited to 90 pitches in his return. Zack Wheeler is coming off his best game but hasn’t won in seven starts. ATL, 5-4
ANGELS (-105, 8) at MARINERS (Wed., 1:10): The Angels’ Garrett Richards is a popular choice of roto-pundits when he starts, but he’s been just a break-even proposition this season at the window. The Mariners’ Marco Gonzalez is part of the biggest surprise staff in baseball and is up four units on the season thus far after winning his last four decisions. SEA, 4-3
RANGERS (+120, 7.5o20) at DODGERS (Thu., 7:10): The Dodgers will have some things to sort out in their rotation, but for now, Kenta Maeda, who had back-to-back terrific stars until a hip flexor injury knocked him from the game and landed him on the 10-day DL. The Rangers’ Cole Hamels gives up the long ball but has a 2.55 ERA on the road this year. LAD, 4-3
ROCKIES (+109, 8.5o20) at PHILLIES (Thu., 10:05): No doubt the Phils’ Vincent Velasquez finally flopped, allowing 10 runs in his last outing, as his home splits show him with a 7.85 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. The Rockies’ German Marquez, who is coming off of a pair of rough outings at home, has just a 2.06 ERA away from Coors Field this season. COL, 5-4
ASTROS (-200, 7o20) at ATHLETICS (Thu., 12:35): Justin Verlander may be having a Cy Young worthy season so far at 8-2 and 1.45 ERA, but he is still down three units this season with his inflated price. Here, we get an interesting matchup with A’s hot starter Frankie Montas, who has won each of his first three starts so far and has a 1.25 ERA. HOU, 4-2
RAYS (+115, 9) at YANKEES (Thu., 4:05): The Yankees’ Domingo German is still searching for his first victory but is proving to be a strikeout pitcher for sure with his second nine-K outing of the season against the Mets in a Yanks’ road win laying -165 on Saturday. The Rays’ Blake Snell a bright spot at 8-3 with a 2.30 ERA NYY, 4-3
NATIONALS (-135, 8.5o15) at BLUE JAYS (Fri., 4:05): The Nats’ Gio Gonzalez is coming off of a pair of so-so outings but still hasn’t been tagged with a loss in his last eight starts and has a 2.65 ERA overall. Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez has won just once over his last seven starts and is down 3.5 units so far this season and is winless at home. WAS, 4-3
TWINS (+150, 9) at INDIANS (Sat., 1:10): Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco went into the week down more than three units before coming off a road game at the White Sox where he was more than a two-dollar favorite. The Twins send Fernando Romero to the mound after his win last Sunday as a small home favorite against the Angels. CLE, 5-4
CUBS (-109, 8.5) at CARDINALS (Sun., 5:05): Cubs were 8-4 in Jose Quintana’s starts and he’s posted a 2.62 ERA on the road this season heading into Monday’s start as a -125 favorite in Milwaukee after he struck out a season-high 10 Wednesday vs. PHI. The Cards’ Jack Flaherty has cooled and was a -190 favorite on Monday at home against the Padres. STL, 4-3