St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Alex Reyes Likely Needs Tommy John Surgery

The St. Louis Cardinals’ and their pitching rotation took a major hit on Tuesday when they discovered that top-prospect Alex Reyes may be the latest victim to Tommy John Surgery.

After feeling discomfort in his elbow, an MRI performed on Cardinals’ pitcher Alex Reyes determined that the right-hander likely needs Tommy John Surgery, per Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal. He also stated that Reyes is seeking a second opinion.

The news strikes as a big blow to the Cardinals’ pitching rotation. Reyes had the potential to earn a spot in the rotation this season.

Reyes’ injury joins a trend in recent years for the Cardinals and pitcher’s injuries. Last season, Michael Wacha struggled all season with a shoulder problem. Lance Lynn missed the entire 2016 season, due to Tommy John Surgery. And in 2015, ace Adam Wainwright missed significant time with an achilles tear.

Not only is the loss of Reyes crucial to the Cardinals this upcoming season, but for their future, as well. According to MLB Pipeline’s 2017 Prospect Watch, Reyes ranked sixth overall and the highest ranked pitcher. Baseball Prospectus ranked Reyes the No. 1 overall prospect in 2017.

Reyes pitched in 12 games for the Cardinals in 2016. He started in five of those 12. Overall, Reyes finished with a record of 4-1, an ERA of 1.57 and 52 strikeouts. A solid K/9 rate of 10.2 and a FIP of 2.67 showed a lot of promise for the up-and-coming pitcher.

And although most pitchers return from TJS with similar pitching results, that isn’t always the case. Look at Oakland A’s pitcher Jarrod Parker. He had TJS and after recovering, required the surgery again. Once healed from the second TJS, Parker broke his elbow while pitching. There’s always a chance that the surgery doesn’t pan out.

The young pitcher hasn’t deemed surgery necessary just yet. The 22-year-old could opt with stem-cell therapy as treatment for his elbow issues.

Recently, Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Garrett Richards chose stem-cell therapy over TJS. Early on in the 2016 season, Richards suffered a tear to his UCL but decided to avoid TJS. The therapy seemed to work for Richards. He’s ready to go for the Angels at the start of the 2017 season. Stem-cell therapy provides a faster recovery time frame compared to the year-long wait for TJS. But stem-cell therapy doesn’t always fix the ligament.

Either way, the Cardinals are more than likely without Reyes for the 2017 season. The Cardinals’ rotation consists of Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Lynn and Wacha. As mentioned above, Lynn is coming back from TJS and Wacha is coming off an injury-plagued 2016 season.

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