In the past 48 hours it has been announced that Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jarrod Parker of the Oakland Athletics both require Tommy John (TJ) surgery, effectively ending both their seasons.
Corbin was coming off his full big league year in which he pitched in the All-Star Game as well as putting up a 14-8 record, 3.41 ERA and 112 OPS+ and pitching 208 and a third innings.
He was due to start the season opener in Australia this Saturday. This will be a huge blow to the Diamondbacks in terms of their hopes in contending for the NL West title.
Wade Miley (10-10, 3.55 ERA, 108 OPS+ in 2013) will replace Patrick in the season opener with Trevor Cahill pitching game two on Sunday.
In the longer term this poses a big problem for Arizona who will have to contend with a Los Angeles Dodgers rotation featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in addition to a San Francisco Giants starting pitching corps highlighted by Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson.
Unless they can trade for a front end starting pitcher the snakes hopes for an NL West title could well be over before the season has even started. Without Corbin the Arizona rotation is likely to feature Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Bronson Arroyo Brandon McCarthy, and highly touted prospect Archie Bradley.
Patrick will be seeking a second opinion later this week. Shortstop Didi Gregorious has also been put on the trade block with the Diamondbacks possibly hoping they could attract a trade partner willing to send them a starting pitcher. With Chris Owings announced as the everyday shortstop and Cliff Pennington as his backup. Arizona can afford to part with the slick fielding Gregorious.
The Oakland Athletics announced that ace starting pitcher Jarrod Parker would be having a second Tommy John Surgery next week. Parker had a consultation with Dr. James Andrews who had performed Jarrod’s first Tommy John surgery back in 2009.
Parker had a 12-8 record with a 3.97 ERA and 97 ERA+ in 2013 although he did pitch 197 innings.
AJ Griffin who was projected to be the A’s number four starter was also shut down for three weeks with flexor tendinitis. This means Griffin will essentially miss all of April.
Oakland are lucky to have very good pitching depth meaning they can still put out a competitive starting rotation made up of Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone with former first round draft pick Drew Pomeranz waiting in the wings in Triple A.
Kazmir is also dealing with a minor injury but maybe able to start today, after being shunted from his start yesterday.
Oakland are very likely to be locked in one of Baseball’s fiercest battles with their main division rival the Texas Rangers.
Texas has itself suffered some starting pitching injury setbacks with Derek Holland out with a knee injury until probably August. Also Matt Harrison is also likely to be unavailable till mid-April due to recovering from back injury.
The front end of the Texas rotation looks solid with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish pitching on opening day followed by Martin Perez, Alexei Ogando, Joe Saunders and Tommy Hanson.
The back of that rotation could be an ugly watch for Rangers fans as Joe Saunders struggled to a 5.26 ERA with a 70 ERA+ last season whilst Tommy Hanson was even worse putting up a 5.40 ERA and an equally horrible 70 ERA+.
Colby Lewis who missed 2013 with various injuries will also be looking to join the Texas rotation sometime in mid-April as he may not be fully up to speed by opening week.
Generally Tommy John surgeries take a year to come back from. The success rate for a first time TJ surgery is 80% whilst that falls to just 40% for a second surgery.
Whilst I believe the Diamondbacks could well be out of NL West pennant contention they could still have enough in the tank to make it into the playoffs as a wildcard team.
A line up consisting of Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo in the three and four spots ably assisted by the likes of Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado, Aaron Hill and Miguel Montero is going to cause problems for many opposing starting rotations.
The addition of Addison Reed as well as the natural improvement of a bullpen that despite putting up an average (16th in MLB) ERA of 3.52 was in many ways below par including jointly leading the majors with the Houston Astros bullpen in blown saves with 29 should help to keep the snakes competitive.
Oakland were great all round in 2013 with their offense ranking third in the majors with a .745 OPS and their bullpen sixth in ERA with a 3.22 ERA.
With how strong the team is in both their bullpen and offense the Athletics should have enough in their locker to qualify for a wild card spot if they can’t retain their AL West title.