The road back to The Show begins tomorrow for Yankees pitcher Luis Severino, as the young ace begins his rehabilitation mission with the Low-A Tampa Tarpons. The two-time All-Star and Cy Young Award 2017 finalist missed the entire 2020 season and the first third of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL on February 27, 2020, and the Yankees hope his return will strengthen a rotation that simultaneously supported a struggling attack and was beset by underperformance and injuries.
Despite improvements in medical practice and technology in recent years, repairs to UCL are tricky, and many attempts to return to the game do not go smoothly. With that in mind, what should Yankees fans expect in the coming month?
Let’s start with the science. Last December, a team of scientists – Stephen J. Thomas, Ryan W. Paul, Adam B. Rosen, Sam J. Wilkins, Joseph Scheidt, John D. Kelly and Ryan L. Crotin – published a study titled “Return to Play and Competitive Outcomes after Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction in Baseball Players: A Systematic Review”. The study is an attempt to analyze not only how long it takes for Major League Baseball players to return from Tommy John surgery, but how long it takes them to return to their previous level of performance. By integrating data from 29 previous studies, this team found that after surgery,
Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers returned to play 80 to 97% of the time in about 12 months; However, returning to the same level of play (RTSP) was less frequent and took longer, with 67% to 87% of MLB pitchers returning in about 15 months.
Right off the bat, it seems the Yankees are at least aware of this trend, as Severino won’t return to the mound in a game setting for fifteen full months after the operation, and will not return to a Major League mound before. sixteen months have passed assuming all goes well. The organization’s previous pitcher leaving the operation, Jordan Montgomery, also didn’t return to the big leagues for fifteen months after his surgery – and since it was the last week of September, he didn’t. made a significant comeback as the following spring training. On top of that, as the following spring was the delayed 2020 season, he didn’t return as a full member of the regular season rotation until two years later.
How did it go on a daily basis? Let’s take a look at a few starting pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery in the past seven years. (The length of the rehab, along with the shortened edit times for the 2020 season, forced me to go back further than I would have liked for the examples.)
The best of cases is represented as closely as possible in recent years by Yu Darvish. After undergoing surgery on March 17, 2015, the then Ranger ace began his rehabilitation mission on May 1, 2016 (just under fourteen months later) throwing 32 throws in two innings for the Texas Double-A affiliate. After completing the clear out, he made four more starts, increasing his workload by one end with each outing. After his final tune-up on May 22, in which he pitched six scoreless innings, Darvish returned to the major leagues on May 28 with five one-run innings against the Pirates of pittsburgh.
Another relatively smooth recovery belongs to former Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 30, 2015. At first glance, McCarthy’s timeline appears to have been pretty much the best of times: After making his first rehab debut on June 11, 2016, he returned to the Dodgers rotation on July 3 after only four starts in the minor leagues, bringing it back to The Show only fourteen months after the operation. However, while this did not delay his return, McCarthy had to be temporarily closed due to “arm discomfort”Following a live enclosure session as part of his pitching program. Even a smooth recovery has a few bumps along the way.
Our apologies to our brothers across town, but the worst case scenarios both belong to the members of the New York food. Although the organization implemented a prolonged rehabilitation plan for Zack Wheeler after undergoing surgery on May 25, 2015, which would bring him back just before the All-Star Break in 2016, a series of setbacks – including a further surgery to remove an undissolved spot in his platelet-rich plasma and elbow injections to treat a strained flexor tendon – kept Wheeler out of the mound for two full seasons.
Most recently, Noah Syndergaard, who underwent surgery on March 26, 2020, was taken out of his second rehab on May 25 of this year and closed for six weeks due to elbow inflammation. At the moment, although they initially have a return date of mid-June (earlier than Luis Severino or Chris Sale, who had Tommy John surgery before him), the Mets don’t even know if Syndergaard will launch. for them this year.
Which path will Severino take back to the Bronx? Only time will tell. As the local ace begins this journey, it’s important to remember that no matter how successful players have come back from this injury in recent years, it is still an injury and an intervention. surgical – rehabilitation and recovery very rarely goes smoothly, and just bringing it back is a major accomplishment.