(Caveat: I've never had a quick blurb about anything.)
When the news hit this afternoon that Alex Reyes would miss the remainder of the season with a torn tendon in his lat, I would imagine that pretty much every fan in Cardinal nation shouted out some manner of expletive. Possibly some tears were shed. Hopefully there was minimal property damage. I acted as you would expect a mature, 47 year old adult to act – I calmly walked to my bedroom, closed the door quietly, laid down on the bed and immediately proceeded to pound my fists and feet into the mattress repeatedly while I wailed uncontrollably accompanied by a torrent of tears.
After I regained my composure, I immediately took to everyone’s bastion of self-control and deliberate reflection, Twitter, to see what it all meant. While I was there I ran across this tweet from Mark Saxon:
So a 6 month recovery time takes us to early December. He’s gone for the rest of the year but pitchers report for spring training in February so it sounds like he should be ready for the beginning of next season. Hopefully.
Well that sounds good but then I saw this tweet from noted injury guru Will Carroll:
“Most similar injury is Jake Peavy.” Crap. I didn’t want to read that. I remember Peavy being one of baseball’s best pitchers and then his arm basically fell off. Fortunately that happened after his torn lat tendon. When Peavy’s injury was diagnosed, the doctor who performed the surgery told him that “full recovery would be a 12-18 month process.” Now, that seems to be different from what Mark Saxon tweeted for Reyes and, obviously, wouldn’t have Reyes pitching in real games until at least next June. I find that unacceptable!
Peavy’s injury happened in a game in July and was back pitching in spring training games the following April. His surgery and recovery, as described in this article and this video (warning – rated PG-13: the video has actual footage of the surgery. If you’re slightly squeamish, well…you’ve been warned.) were the first time an MLB player had undergone this surgery and returned to play in MLB games. Now, this was about 6 years ago and there’ve been many advancements in medical practice in the last 6 years.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Peavy was pitching in spring training games the following March, he didn’t actually take the mound in any real games until June. That’s slightly less than the 12-18 month recovery period that Peavy was given when he was diagnosed but still would not leave Reyes in line to be ready for the beginning of the regular season in 2019. Of course, that was 6 years ago…
The good news is that when Peavy did return, he pitched extremely well. Though his ERA was high, his FIP-based WAR was just over 3 in about half a season. The next season he pitched over 200 innings and he had a 4.4 WAR. So if Peavy can return to being an outstanding starting pitcher 6 years ago, there’s no reason to believe that Reyes can’t be outstanding as well. The question, obviously, is when can he start being that pitcher we all hope he will be?
Thanks to fangraphs for the stats and to @1bTerrace & of course @cardinalsgifs for the great Reyes pic.