For those of you that don’t know what, “elbow discomfort” means for a pitcher - it generally means really bad stuff. On Saturday, we saw our ace pitcher Steven Gingery leave the game after 2.1 innings with some issues stemming from his elbow. I was at the game, and I’m not grasping when I say the injury was very sudden. In fact, I was thinking maybe they had planned to pull Gingery early to avoid overuse (sorry for being optimistic in the moment). Yet, I was quickly brought down to earth when I heard the issue was significantly more serious.
Despite my initial optimism, I’ve turned pessimistic quickly. The longer we don’t hear definitive news - the more it makes me feel like doctors are giving second opinions on his elbow. What could they being giving those opinions on? Yep, you guessed it, Tommy John surgery.
There have been some truly miraculous innovations for those who have Tommy John surgery (aka UCL damage), and pitchers such as Yu Darvish, Stephen Strasburg, and fellow Red Raider Josh Tomlin have all undergone the procedure. You could make a really bad argument this is a sign of future MLB success, but this isn’t a joking matter . We’d be losing our Pre-Season #1 player after one game, and our hopes of making the College World Series take a dramatic hit. Not to mention the fact that Gingery is likely a team leader and this will take a toll on the clubhouse.
Should we lose Gingery I think you’ll see a few things change with the rotation. I’ve listed out a few scenarios below.
Friday - Davis Martin - I don’t see this changing due to injury, but I think there will be a lot of added pressure on Martin to perform better on Fridays. It’s easy to bring in the bullpen on a Friday if you’ve got a guy who can eat 7-8 innings on Saturday from the onset. Given that we haven’t seen Davis pitch more than 5-6 innings in a start since his Freshmen campaign - we’ve got reason to worry here.
Saturday - Ryan Shetter - This is a hot take, but I really liked what I saw from Shetter in 2016. He’s coming out of the bullpen currently (or he’s a mid-week starter), but I think you like your odds with him being your middle of the weekend starter given his experience.
Sunday - Erikson Lanning - I’ll assume you speculated that I’d slot John McMillon here, but if you lose Gingery you’ll need to fortify your bullpen with power arms that can end games. A guy like Lanning won’t pitch deep into games, but the stamina built by McMillon will have him act as a Hayden Howard, John Neely, or Chad Bettis-esque bullpen arm that takes over when we want to certify a win early.
Of course, I’m simply speculating on speculations, so this might be a non-issue and we’re being overly dramatic. Yet, where there’s smoke there’s generally fire. Don’t be surprised if there are dramatic ripple effects. Let’s hope for the best though...