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Strasburg will need Tommy John surgery, could miss 12-18 months.

Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com reports that Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will likely need Tommy John surgery in his pitching arm:

“Stephen Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament that will probably require Tommy John surgery, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said this morning.

Strasburg, who came out of last Saturday’s game against the Phillies in the fifth inning after throwing a changeup to Domonic Brown, was initially diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm. He was examined in Philadelphia last Saturday, and a Phillies team doctor told the Nationals that Strasburg would be fine, and would be throwing again in five days.

But a subsequent MRI showed enough swelling in Strasburg’s arm to merit the MRI arthrogram, in which dye is injected into the area of the patient’s injury. That test showed the tear of Strasburg’s ulnar collateral ligament. The Nationals will fly Strasburg to the West Coast to get a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum.”

Analysis:

This is arguably the most disappointing news imaginable. The great one, the savior, Jeezus himself will now have Tommy John surgery not just keeping him out this season, but also all of next year. Many Nats fans had serious hopes of the team turning into a competitor in 2011, but now any serious chance of that is likely out the window. To Washington the young hurler had already become more than just a stellar arm that could help the team get victories, but also a beacon of hope that the good days were just around the corner.

Perhaps 2011 means we’ll have another years worth of dark days.

Strasburg will finish his 2010 rookie campaign with a 5-3 record and a 2.91 ERA. The 23-year-old struck out 92 batters in only 68 innings, and more importantly, he empowered Nats fans by giving them a hope they hadn’t imagined since 2005.

Yes, this is scary that our $15 million arm is going under the knife. Yes, it is scary that we wont get to witness his fastball for 18 months, and yes names like Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are swirling around yet again in comparison, however we must remember that Tommy John surgery is almost 90% effective, and is so useful that some players are volunteering for the procedure.

They caught the elbow injury before he pitched himself into a shoulder injury. This is sad, but it is fixable.

In the meantime Strasburg will be sent to the 60-day disables list where, unfortunately, he will accumulate service time. This means that not only will Nats fans miss out on a year of watching Strasburg pitch, they will do so while losing a year of control over the pitcher. That’s rough news for the fans and the organization, essentially his contract just became a year shorter.

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