Ivan Nova likely to face Tommy John surgery after partially torn UCL diagnosis

Elbow injuries around Major League Baseball continue piling up at an alarming rate. The latest on the list and another likely to face Tommy John surgery is New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova, who was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL following his early exit Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.

From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch: 

The MRI on RHP Ivan Nova last night has revealed a partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow.

“Tommy John” surgery is a possibility, though the Yankees will look at the chance that the injury can be rehabbed first.

A standard and expected response, but even partially torn ligaments lead to Tommy John surgery more times than not.

According to Michael J. Fensom of Newsday, 20 major league pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery since the end of last season, including Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves. Nova would push that number to 21, and with minor leaguers taken into account that number obviously shoots even higher. There seems to be no good answer as to why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in such a short amount of time, but it’s obviously becoming a growing concern as more organizations are affected. 

As for Nova’s situation, in hindsight, it’s clear he wasn’t nearly the same pitcher who posted a 3.10 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings last season. Through four starts, concluding with Saturday’s eight runs over four innings, Nova had an 8.27 ERA with 32 hits and six home runs allowed in 20 2/3 innings. Chances are he hasn’t been full strength since opening day, but attempted to gut through the discomfort. 

With the looming possibility that Nova will be lost for the season, New York will be forced to reshuffle the pitching deck. Late Saturday night, they called up 23-year-old right-hander Bryan Mitchell, who before the season was ranked New York’s 21st best prospect by Baseball America. It seems he’ll get the first crack, but the always creative Yankees will be prepared to go other directions if he falters or if more injuries pop up.

One thing is definitely for sure. The saying about never having enough pitching is proving more true by the week. Depth around the league is being seriously tested, which could lead to a season of big offensive stats in MLB.  

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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