Catching up with pitchers returning from Tommy John in 2016
Every year it seems like more and more pitchers are undergoing Tommy John surgery -- just last year, there were 112 players from all levels to go under the knife. It can be tough to keep track of all of them, but there are a good amount of big-name players returning in 2016. Here's a little refresher on those guys and when you can expect to see them back on a Major League bump.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY SportsRick Scuteri
From his MLB debut in 2007 until 2011, Homer Bailey was dripping with potential. He had the size at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and he had the arm, (throwing mid-90s with a devastating curveball), but it wasn't until 2012 when he started to hit his stride. Bailey started a league-high 33 games, owned a 3.68 ERA, topped 200 innings for the first time in his career, and threw a no-hitter. The 2013 season was much of the same; Bailey tossed 209 innings, held a 3.49 ERA and threw another no-hitter. He was rewarded that offseason, signing a six-year, $105 million extension to stay in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, he dealt with arm fatigue that knocked him out for much of 2014, then had Tommy John surgery in May of 2015. Bailey won't be back until around the All-Star break, but the rebuilding Reds have him on the payroll through 2019.
Cobb debuted as a 23-year-old in 2011, but didn't really hit his stride until the 2013 season. In 2013 and 2014, Cobb was quietly one of the top starters in the American League, compiling a 21-12 record and 2.82 ERA over that span. He missed the start of the 2015 season and eventually opted for Tommy John surgery in May of last year. Cobb could miss much of the 2016 season, but when he returns, he'll join one of the better rotations in the AL.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Ever since Darvish made the transition from the NPB, he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball. He went 16-9 in his rookie year in 2012, pitching to a 3.90 ERA and striking out 221 in 191 1/3 innings. Darvish led all of baseball in whiffs in 2013, recording 277 strikeouts in 209 2/3 innings. The 29-year-old was limited to 22 starts in 2014, making his last start that season in early August. But he didn't have Tommy John surgery until spring training 2015. The hope is that he'll be back in early 2016, joining Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Chi Chi Gonzalez.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
Griffin has had some rough luck with injuries. After a strong 2013 season in which he tossed 200 innings for the A's and owning a 3.83 ERA, Griffin underwent Tommy John surgery in spring training of 2014, then missed the 2015 season after injuring his shoulder during the rehab process. This offseason, though, the A's released him and the Rangers swooped in to sign him. If Griffin is able to fully bounce back, he'll join a loaded Rangers rotation, but there is no timetable for his return.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
After being drafted in the first round by the Diamondbacks in 2007, Parker was flipped to Oakland after the 2011 season. He showed a ton of promise in his first two years with the A's. Parker held a 3.47 ERA in 2012 and 3.97 ERA in 2013 -- and then the injuries started. The now-27-year-old underwent his second Tommy John surgery prior to the 2014 season and seemed to be on the fast track to return. He wasn't. In a rehab start in 2015, Parker suffered a fracture in his elbow, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Should he return, it'll be interesting if the A's decide to use him out of the rotation or bullpen.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportBrace Hemmelgarn
Once upon a time, Simmons looked like the heir apparent to Craig Kimbrel. Armed with an upper-90s fastball and devastating slider, the 5-foot-11 righty was the primary setup man for the Braves in 2014, owning a 2.91 ERA, striking out 23 in 21 1/3 innings. With Atlanta currently in full rebuild mode, 2016 could be the perfect year for Simmons to ramp his innings back up with his eyes on being completely off the leash in 2017. He's expected to return in the first couple months of this season.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
There's gotta something special about Tyler Skaggs. When GM Jerry Dipoto was with the Diamondbacks, he traded for Skaggs from the Angels -- then acquired him again when he went over to Los Angeles. And while Dipoto has since moved on to Seattle, Skaggs has remained in Anaheim, where he's poised to be a top-of-the-rotation starter this season behind Garrett Richards. In 2014, Skaggs owned a 4.30 ERA over 18 starts, but had a 3.55 FIP, showing that he was pitching better than what his ERA showed. The 24-year-old lefty should be fully healthy by the start of the 2016 season.
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY SportsJoy R. Absalon
Wheeler was basically the hipster of the Mets pitching staff -- he was young, promising and threw upper-90s heat before the rest of the rotation. He burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2013, pitching to a 3.42 ERA in 100 innings, pairing with Harvey to provide a glimpse of the future. In 2014, the now-25-year-old righty tossed 185 1/3 innings with a 3.54 ERA in 32 starts. Unfortunately, his elbow didn't hold up and he had Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, likely knocking him out until June (ish) of 2016. Drama struck last season when he was nearly flipped at the deadline last season for Carlos Gomez, but that deal ultimately fell through. Once he returns, Wheeler will join a stellar rotation along with Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Stephen Matz and Bartolo Colon.