The New York Mets announced on Monday that MRI results showed that right-hander Zack Wheeler has torn the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow.
Wheeler will seek a second opinion, but it seems that Tommy John surgery is likely and unavoidable.
If he does opt for the surgery, Wheeler will be the 12th professional pitcher in affiliated ball to have Tommy John since the beginning of last offseason, the third of which pitches for the Mets. New York experienced bad news yesterday as well, when reports said that lefty reliever Josh Edgin would be having Tommy John surgery as well.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Major League pitchers with elbow troubles, as Brandon Cumpton, Yu Darvish, and Joel Hanrahan are among the pitchers who have either had the surgery or will be having the surgery to repair their respective UCLs since breaking camp. The Tommy John "epidemic," as some like to call it, has been a serious issue in the Major and Minor Leagues, as 103 affiliated pitchers have had the surgery since New Year's Day of 2014.
For the Mets, the loss of their young ace will be big. Since making his big league debut on June 18, 2013, Wheeler is 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA (3.77 FIP) in 285 1/3 innings over 49 starts. He has a 2.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wheeler has made one start thus far this Spring, allowing six runs over 1 2/3 innings of work against the Marlins. He was scratched from Saturday's start with a "tender" right elbow.
Dillon Gee, who was a trade candidate for the Mets, will now get a spot with the team's starting pitchers. New York's 2015 rotation now looks like this: Matt Harvey, who just came back from the Tommy John procedure; Jacob deGrom; Jonathan Niese; Bartolo Colon; and Gee. The loss of Wheeler will be a crushing blow to a team that was looking to take a big step forward this season with the three-headed monster at the top of their pitching staff.