In an article published yesterday, Will Carroll, who is one of the foremost authorities when it comes to sports injuries, weighed in on Matt Harvey‘s decision to have Tommy John surgery. Harvey will undergo surgery later this month, and will miss most, if not all of the 2014 season.
Carroll’s article should put a smile on the face of Mets fans. It’s titled “Why Matt Harvey Will Likely Return From Tommy John Surgery as Good as Ever.”
In it, Carroll not only discusses the fact that Harvey will likely return to form upon his return – he also delves into just how common Tommy John surgery has become among Major League pitchers:
…a study done as part of my Tommy John series this summer showed that one third of major league pitchers would not be pitching if not for the elbow surgery.
That statistic should give Harvey and Mets fans comfort, but there’s always a slim chance that a pitcher who has the procedure never fully recovers (see Daniel Hudson). In his piece, Carroll discussed what Harvey and the Mets need to do in order to ensure that he comes back at full strength:
One can only hope that the Mets and Harvey use this rehab as a learning experience. Once Harvey gets back to throwing off a mound, he should have a biomechanical evaluation to see whether his motion is problematic.
Carroll noted that if there is an issue with Harvey’s motion, it could be corrected with the help of the aforementioned biomechanical evaluation (and likely prevent the worst case scenario of a second Tommy John surgery). He also wrote that the Mets are starting to do more as far as biomechanical evaluations and preventative measures are concerned.
What exactly is a biomechanical evaluation? This is a biomechanical evaluation:
Here’s a blurb regarding the Mets and biomechanical evaluations from an article in the New York Times that was written shortly after Harvey’s diagnosis:
The Mets, like most teams, do not submit their pitchers to individual biomechanical evaluations. But [Sandy] Alderson said the team was using TrackMan, a 3D radar system that measures, among other things, release point and arm extension. The Mets also use biomechanical video evaluations on draft prospects, and are developing a proprietary system that would identify possible risks for their pitchers.
There’s never any guarantee when it comes to athletes returning to their pre-surgery form. However, the high success rate of Tommy John surgery, combined with Matt Harvey’s work ethic, should make Mets fans and the club feel somewhat at ease.