Oakland Athletics pitcher A.J. Griffin had been in Tommy John limbo since before season's start, but Tuesday word came down that Griffin will become the next MLB pitcher to get elbow surgery, adding another name to the Tommy John list that seems to add one or two new members per week.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Tuesday that Griffin will have surgery. Jane Lee of MLB.com confirmed the report and added that's Griffin's surgery will happen Wednesday. Tommy John recovery time is about 12 months, which means Griffin could be back midseason in 2015. He was 14-10 last season for the A's, with a 3.83 ERA in 200 innings.
It was reported last week that Griffin would need surgery, but the A's shot that down. Griffin has been sidelined since March with an elbow problem. He went down about the time the A's lost then-opening day starter Jarrod Parker to Tommy John surgery.
Outside the A's, the list of 2014 Tommy Johns is long at this point: Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy of the Braves, Ivan Nova of the Yankees, Patrick Corbin of the D-backs, Josh Johnson and Cory Luebke of the Padres, Matt Moore of the Rays, Luke Hochevar of the Royals, Bobby Parnell of the Mets and Bruce Rondon of the Tigers are notables.
Griffin makes 31 players who have needed Tommy John surgery since February, according to Joe Roegele's Tommy John surgery list, 16 of them big-league pitchers, two of them minor-league position players. It's to the point where people are wondering whether it's an epidemic.
Archie Bradley, the top prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks, looks like a candidate for Tommy John surgery now too, after he was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with elbow issues. But then again, maybe recent history has caused us to presume every pitcher with an elbow or forearm injury is destined for Tommy John surgery. Bradley will take two weeks off, then start throwing again.
Oddly enough, the A's and the Braves — the teams that lost two members of their starting rotation to Tommy John surgery — lead their respective leagues in starting pitching ERA at this early juncture. Braves starters have an impressive 1.57 ERA, while the A's are at 2.89.
The A's have been helped by the performance of Jesse Chavez, the reliever who took over a rotation spot after the absences of Griffin and Parker. Chavez has a 2.32 ERA in five starts this season, and now he doesn't look to be going anywhere.
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