It’s Time for Garrett Richards to Finally Undergo Tommy John Surgery

July 12, 2018 | insideinjuries | No Comments

Garrett Richards is notorious for his history of arm problems, and things are only getting worse.

In 2016, Richards suffered a partial UCL tear and opted for the rest and rehab route. He received a stem cell injection, and follow-up evaluations showed that the ligament did heal enough for him to pitch symptom-free. Unfortunately in 2017 he landed on the 60-day DL due to biceps nerve irritation. Richards made just 6 appearances in 2016 and 6 in 2017 due to his arm problems.

2018 was off to a much better start. Richards made 16 starts and posted a solid 3.66 ERA to go along with a 5-4 record. The Angels were hoping he was doing just well enough to get a nice return in a trade before the deadline. Then he left his start on Tuesday after just 2.2 innings and reported discomfort in his forearm, often an indication of UCL trouble.

Sure enough, an MRI showed damage to the UCL. He is going to seek other opinions, but it’s time for him to finally opt for Tommy John surgery. He has had this problem once before, and even if rehab and injections worked the first time, pitchers are always at a higher risk of future ligament damage. That’s exactly what happened here, and it’s what happened with Shohei Ohtani as well. Our algorithm had Richards at a High or Elevated Injury Risk all season for exactly this reason. He had also just returned from a DL stint due to a left hamstring strain.

If Richards does undergo surgery, he is looking at a 14-18 month recovery if no setbacks along the way. That would mean he is likely to miss all of the 2019 season but should be ready to go for 2020 Spring Training. But at 30 years old and with a lengthy history of arm problems, his better years are likely behind him.