Texas Rangers: Jacob deGrom and the uncertain recovery from Tommy John surgery

Philadelphia Phillies v Texas Rangers
Philadelphia Phillies v Texas Rangers / Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

When it comes to pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery, the question on everyone's mind is whether they will be able to return to their previous form. Jacob deGrom, the talented Texas Rangers' pitcher, is no exception to this speculation. Especially after being under the knife for a second time. A renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Richard Lehman, has cast doubts this week on the prospects of a full recovery after multiple Tommy John surgeries.

Dr. Lehman, who has performed numerous UCL surgeries throughout his career, recently discussed the misconceptions surrounding this surgical procedure. He emphasized that the surgery does not inherently lead to increased throwing velocity upon returning to the game. However, deGrom did experience becoming one of the league's hardest throwers post-recovery from his first Tommy John surgery, in 2010. 

Dr. Lehman made it clear that having a second Tommy John surgery is far from ideal.

While approximately 25-30 percent of Major League pitchers may undergo Tommy John surgery at some point in their careers, a second surgery is relatively rare. As Dr. Lehman pointed out, predicting the recovery process becomes more challenging with each subsequent surgery.

The pursuit of high velocity pitching has contributed to a rise in Tommy John surgeries among pitchers. The desire to throw harder and achieve greater performance has put excessive strain on pitchers' arms, leading to an increased risk of UCL injuries. It is crucial for pitchers to reconsider the emphasis on throwing with maximum velocity and instead focus on overall pitching mechanics, arm care, and injury prevention. Striking a balance between power and durability can help safeguard pitchers from the detrimental effects of pushing their arms to the limit, ultimately preserving their long-term careers in the game.

deGrom, who had his second Tommy John surgery recently, hopes to make a comeback by August 2024, approximately 14 months after the procedure performed by Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers team physician.

Will Texas Rangers pitcher, Jacob deGrom, return from Tommy John surgery still throwing 100 mph fastballs?

The Texas Rangers signed deGrom to a five-year, $185 million deal in December, aware of his injury history during his time with the New York Mets. Prior to his injury in April, deGrom showcased his dominance with a 2-0 record and an impressive 2.67 ERA.

deGrom's determination to return to the mound is evident, as he acknowledges the hard work and commitment required for a successful comeback. He has already commenced the initial stages of his rehabilitation.

Upon deGrom's return, it is imperative for him to reinvent himself and prioritize pitch selection and lower velocities to enhance his overall durability and reduce the risk of future injuries. If he fails to make these adjustments, the Texas Rangers' substantial investment in him may prove wasteful. By shifting the emphasis from overpowering velocity to a more strategic and sustainable approach, deGrom can maximize his effectiveness while safeguarding his long-term career. Failing to adapt would mean the Rangers squandering millions of dollars on a player who may be unable to consistently contribute on the mound due to recurring injury concerns.

The uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom's future after his second Tommy John surgery remains a matter of concern. While some pitchers have defied the odds and experienced improved performance following multiple reconstructions, Dr. Lehman's insights caution against expecting a complete recovery in every case. Only time will reveal the true outcome for deGrom and whether he can regain his previous dominance on the mound.