COMMENTARY | The New York Mets were delivered a substantial blow to their future when they found out Matt Harvey has a partial tear of his UCL, an injury that may require the infamous Tommy John surgery.
Surgery could put Harvey on the shelf for the entirety of the 2014 season and impact his effectiveness for even longer. The St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright can provide a solid road map for Harvey and the Mets to follow.
Wainwright has been down the road that Harvey now faces. A partial tear of the UCL does not ensure that Tommy John surgery is necessary. It can be handled through rehabilitation and surgery can be delayed. It is a slippery slope, but one that Wainwright's career is familiar with.
The partial tear
Wainwright suffered a partial tear of the UCL very early in his career. He was able to continue pitching at a very productive level for more than five years from the initial diagnosis. Other pitchers have tried to go the route of rehab with little to no success, but Wainwright proves that it is not impossible. Harvey may not see any significant time lost beyond the 2013 season.
Recovery time varies
It was early 2011 when Wainwright realized he did not feel right and was headed for surgery. The typical diagnosis can project almost a year-and-a-half recovery time for most pitchers. Wainwright surprised everyone when his rehabilitation from surgery was moving forward at a pace that had him throwing from a mound by the end of 2011. He showed up to spring training in 2012 ready to go and opened the season as a member of the rotation, just about 12 months removed from surgery.
That first season back is different
Once Wainwright was back on the mound, expectations were high and Cardinals fans were convinced that their ace had returned. While Wainwright's first season back was successful by most accounts, it was not the season he is capable of that we are seeing in 2013.
In 2012, Wainwright was able to throw more than 198 innings and strike out hitters at a pace similar to his career numbers before the surgery. He walked more hitters than normal, did not work as deep into games, and struggled with his command occasionally. He was back on the mound, but he wasn't completely back to normal.
It comes back to you
We can see this year that Wainwright is back to his old ways and, in some instances, is even better. His command has returned, he is working deep into games, and his dominance is once again apparent. Two years after his surgery, he is back in force.
Follow the map
Should Harvey have surgery, it will most likely happen in September. Applying the Wainwright road map, it is conceivable that Harvey could pitch a few games at the end of 2014, should he progress in a similar manner. At the very least, Harvey could find himself rehabbing in September of next year. He will not be back to form in 2015, but he will be getting there by the end of the season. Harvey could provide some strong innings and show his old form in the stretch run of 2015.
By 2016, Harvey could be back to his status as ace, and the future will be bright for the right-hander from Connecticut.
Harvey may end up being able to go through a regimen of rest and rehab and be able to continue to pitch for many years before needing surgery, much like Wainwright did. The current state of the Mets may suggest that opting for surgery now is the best thing for both the young pitcher and his team.
Either way, Wainwright may be just the guy to consult for advice.
- Sports & Recreation
- Adam Wainwright
- Matt Harvey
- Tommy John surgery