The New York Yankees’ already shaky rotation took a major hit Tuesday. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will undergo surgeries to repair both a torn flexor tendon and a partially torn UCL. The injuries are expected to prevent Eovaldi from pitching in 2017.
Notice we said “surgeries” above. That’s right, Eovaldi’s injury will require two different procedures, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.
While anyone who follows baseball knows how serious a partially torn UCL can be for pitchers, Eovaldi’s torn flexor tendon sounds pretty gruesome.
Nathan Eovaldi’s flexor tendon was torn clear off the bone.
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) August 16, 2016
The phrase “torn clear of the bone” is only a positive when you’re dealing with delicious smoked meats. It’s most certainly not something you want to hear about a functioning human arm.
Though Eovaldi hasn’t been great this year, the injury puts the Yankees in a tough spot. The team’s rotation was already considered a weak point coming into the year, and that was back when people were expecting some growth from Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino.
Of that bunch, Eovaldi and his 4.76 ERA seemed like the best option, though that’s not saying much. Without him next season, the team will need to hope Pineda can rediscover whatever made him useful back in 2014, and hope Severino can regain some of the promise he showed in 2015. Severino is still too young to write off, though his star is considerably dimmer after his struggles this year.
On top of that, it’s not like the top of the rotation is in good shape either. Masahiro Tanaka has been solid this year with a 3.40 ERA. He’s also been able to stay on the field. But everyone knows he’s pitching through a partially torn UCL and will likely need surgery eventually.
Behind him is CC Sabathia. While Sabathia has experienced a bit of a resurgence this year, his 4.20 ERA is a far cry from his peak. He’s also 36 years old, and is no longer the durable workhorse he once was. This 2016 version of Sabathia is probably the best the Yankees can hope for at this point.
As of right now, you would expect those four to headline the Yankees rotation next season. That’s not exactly an encouraging thought.
With that said, the offseason exists and the Yankees can easily spend money to make upgrades. But given the team’s unwillingness to sign players last offseason, and the midseason trades they made, this Yankees team certainly looks to be in a rebuilding phase.
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Eovaldi may not have been a huge factor in those future plans, but he was at least a dependable mid-rotation type. That has value, especially on a team looking to break in younger, inexperienced players.
With Eovaldi on the shelf, it’s much harder to do that. His performance may not have been all that special this year, but given the current state of the franchise, losing Eovaldi is much more significant to the Yankees than it appears.
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