Stephen Strasburg has significant UCL tear, will likely require Tommy John surgery

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Well, this is just about the worst-case scenario for Nationals fans.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just announced that Stephen Strasburg will likely require Tommy John surgery after Thursday’s arthogram revealed a “significant tear” of the ulnar collateral ligament in his his right elbow.

Rizzo said the team believes the injury was “acute” and happened on one pitch, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

It sure sounds like he is headed for surgery, but Kilgore writes that he will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum, the same doctor who performed Tommy John surgery on Jordan Zimmermann.

Recovery time from Tommy John surgery is approximately 12-18 months, so we’ll almost certainly have to wait until 2012 until we see Strasburg again. The silver lining is that there are several examples of pitchers who have gone on to enjoy success after Tommy John surgery. Still, it’s a sobering and disappointing end to one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory. Let’s hope he doesn’t become yet another cautionary tale.