The Washington Nationals highly regarded rookie pitcher Stephan Strasburg is out for the season and likely will miss all of next season due to Tommy John surgery. While no organization likes to have their star rookie go under the knife, Tommy John surgery actually has a lot of success stories. Chris Carpenter and Tim Hudson are experiencing success after their surgeries. John Smoltz might not have achieved the success he had before the surgery. However, Smoltz did become a successful relief pitcher for a few years and still had a few successful seasons as a starter as well. Tommy John had a very successful career after his surgery. Tommy John surgery is becoming more of a career extending surgery than a career ending surgery.
The First Success Story Tommy John
The surgery is named after pitcher Tommy John who had the procedure done in 1974. Thirty six years ago “he was given little chance of recovering.” However, “after 18 months of rehab, John went on to pitch until 1989.” Even today 12-18 months is the expected rehab time. Tommy went on to win 20 games three times after his surgery and pitched 13 seasons after the surgery. John also was a thee time All-Star after his surgery.
Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter has gone 31-9 so far since his Tommy John surgery. Chris has won the comeback player of the year award in 2009 and was selected as an All-Star in 2010 all since having the surgery. The Braves Tim Hudson has gone 17-6 since returning from his Tommy John surgery including a 15-5 record so far this season. Hudson was an All-Star this season his first full season back from his operation.
Smoltz missed the 2000 season for the Braves due to Tommy John surgery. John tried to return as a starter but ended up turning into one of the dominant closers in the game. 2002 thru 2004 Smoltz saved over 40 games each season. John earned awards such as the Relief Man Award in 2002, and All-Star appearances as a relief pitcher in 2002 and 2003. Smoltz later transitioned back to being a starter in 2005 and was named an All-Star. He won 16 games in 2006 and 14 in 2007. Smoltz had greater success before the surgery, however he did have surgery in his thirties. Smoltz fgot to experience pitching as one of the best starting pitchers and one of the best closers.
Baseball-reference.com for Tommy John stats
MLB.com for other players stats