The word on Tyler Glasnow isn't good. That pinch he felt in his elbow Monday night, necessitating his removal after four innings? Turns out it's a partial tear in his UCL -- i.e., the ligament associated with Tommy John surgery.
He's going the rest-and-rehabilitation route for now, but usually in these cases, it's just delaying the inevitable. Masahiro Tanaka was able to make it work. So was Ervin Santana several years before that. But the list of pitchers who've managed to pitch through a partial UCL tear is short -- and not for a lack of trying.
So if you've been relying on Glasnow as your Fantasy ace, get used to life without him. And in dynasty leagues, you'd just as soon he get it over with. Waiting too long could wipe out all of his 2022 as well.
I could name some intriguing replacements to target on the waiver wire -- guys like Tarik Skubal, Mike Minor, Logan Gilbert and Tucker Davidson -- but of course, none of them are going to sniff the numbers shown above. A trade? Sure, you could try, but this injury comes at a time when the pitching market is as volatile as it's ever been.
And I do mean ever. Not only is MLB suddenly cracking down on the use of foreign substances to improve grip after allowing it to fester in recent years, but we've also arrived at a critical point for workload following the strangest season that ever was.
It's that second issue I want to focus on, because while it got some attention during draft prep season, it may have gotten lost in the day-to-day since. A 60-game season, like we had in 2020, is something we've never seen before, and in an era when teams are more cognizant than ever of managing pitcher workload, with one of the cardinal rules being that no one should see an increase of more than 40-60 innings from one season to the next, it puts the entire pitching pool at risk.
There's a reason that rule came to be, after all. Injuries, particularly those with the potential to alter one's career, had become all too common. And while some might suggest it was due to a max-effort mentality that wasn't so prevalent in "the good ol' days," whenever those might have been, nonetheless, it is where we are. Pitchers throw how they throw. Innings need to be covered. And now, more than 60 games into this season, the rubber is meeting the road.
Just in the past week, we've seen Glasnow, Shane Bieber and Max Scherzer land on the IL. Meanwhile, something is going on with Jacob deGrom's elbow. Glasnow is one thing, but you won't find three pitchers more accustomed to a big workload than Bieber, Scherzer and deGrom. Fittingly, their teams have worked them about like they've always worked them, making few concessions for the 60-game season.
Maybe it's just a coincidence they all got hurt now, at about last season's endpoint (Scherzer's injury isn't even to his arm, it's worth noting), but it supports the idea of the workload catching up to the pitchers getting the most work. In the case of Glasnow, the Rays for some reason saw fit to work him harder than ever. He's currently tied for fourth in innings despite not having worked even 130 since 2017.
Realistically, we can't tie any pitcher's injury to any singular cause, but if this latest wave begins a period of unparalleled attrition, it wouldn't surprise me. And I know some might say it's already been happening, seeing as IL stints are at all-time high, but I'm expecting it to go even higher now that pitchers are pushing their arms beyond where they went a year ago.
Think you're flush with pitching? Tempted to move some of your excess arms? Well, you better hope they're all who they appeared to be back when the sticky stuff was still prevalent. And provided they are, you better hope the attrition doesn't come for them.
Between those two risk factors, I fear a wrecking ball is coming. Hold your pitchers close, everyone.