The American League-leading Rays could be without their ace for a while.
On Tuesday, Tampa Bay Times’ reporter Marc Topkin tweeted that Tyler Glasnow has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that often results in Tommy John surgery, and a flexor tendon strain. There is no timeline for his return.
Topkin added in another tweet that Glasnow has been placed on the 10-day injured list.
Tommy John surgery, which has become common for MLB pitchers in recent decades, is the reconstruction of a torn UCL in the elbow. The procedure takes more than a year for pitchers to recover fully and return to the mound.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted that right now, the plan is for Glasnow to avoid the procedure and instead hope to have him rehab the injury.
The Rays, with an American League-best 43-24 record, no doubt want to see Glasnow return in 2021, as he has put himself in the AL Cy Young conversation and has been a dominant arm for Tampa Bay. He owns a 2.66 ERA and is second in the AL with 123 strikeouts. His .176 opponents’ batting average is also the second-best in the AL, as is his 2.5 WAR, which is tied with Carlos Rodon behind only Gerrit Cole, according to Fangraphs.
The track record of pitchers who avoid the surgery hasn’t been great so far. Angels two-way standout Shohei Ohtani in 2018 had a Grade 2 UCL strain, which indicates a stretched or partially torn ligament. He staved off the procedure the rest of the season with stem-cell and plasma-rich platelet injections, but underwent the surgery during the offseason. Of course, he continued to bat during his recovery time, which Glasnow will not be doing. Reds top pitching prospect Hunter Greene also sprained the UCL in his throwing elbow in 2018, but a setback during his rehab forced him to have Tommy John surgery in March 2019.
According to Caring Medical in a post about treating a UCL injury, doctors won’t rush the procedure because of the long recovery time, and instead a few months of rest is usually recommended.
MLB.com reported that after Monday’s start against the White Sox, Glasnow left the start because of right elbow inflammation. Glasnow said in the report that he felt a “a little tug” in his right elbow in the fourth inning and that he felt it every pitch for the remainder of the frame.
Glasnow said it wasn’t “crazy pain,” but that “it was just probably better for me to not go out and throw again,” according to the MLB.com report.
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