The St. Louis Cardinals received a blow to their 2016 title aspirations with the club’s announcement that starting pitcher Lance Lynn underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while also having the ulnar nerve transposed and bone chips removed.
With an expected recovery time of 12 months minimum, the 28-year-old right-hander will miss the entire 2016 season. In fact, he has 15 months to get ready for the 2017 season.
Over the last four seasons, Lynn has been the most durable member of the Cardinals rotation, with 60 wins and 189 innings pitched per season.
During the 2015 campaign, Lynn went 12-11 with a 3.03 ERA in 31 starts and 175 1/3 innings, but was far less effective near the end and did not receive a start in the Cardinals’ NLDS loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Lynn battled forearm and ankle trouble during 2015, including spending from June 12-25 on the disabled list. Contacted by FOX Sports Midwest’s Jim Hayes on Tuesday, Lynn said he was not surprised about the need for surgery, given the elbow had been “an issue for most of the year”.
Brian Walton’s take
The injury to Lynn and the expected departure of John Lackey as a free agent leaves a clear opening in the Cardinals rotation. Returning starters Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia each dealt with health issues of their own in 2015, as well.
The pipeline is not empty, with lefties Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales and Tim Cooney in reserve, but even before the Lynn news, I projected the team would add a veteran starter. Now, general manager John Mozeliak’s shopping list may have grown to two – perhaps one front liner to step in for Lynn and a middle-to-lower tier innings-eater type as additional insurance.
Until now, it appeared the team’s top off-season priorities were to re-sign outfielder Jason Heyward and boost an inconsistent offense. Now that Lynn’s 190-200 innings are out of the picture, either a re-shifting of priorities or an increase in spending will be required to give the Cardinals the best opportunity to remain on top in a very competitive National League Central Division.
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