Charting the rise of Tommy John surgeries

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Still reeling from the news about Jose Fernandez. I know a lot of pitchers get Tommy John surgery, but this thing in which an exciting young pitcher bursts on the scene and wows all of baseball for a while and then goes down just when we’re really starting to enjoy it all is really getting old. Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Fernandez. There were others. There will be more.

Many more if this chart from Bill Petti — put together using data from Jon Roegele — is any suggestion. It shows the steep rise in Tommy John surgeries over the years. Sure, some of it is probably a function of doctors and teams being more willing to pull the trigger and have the surgery done where, a few years ago, the pitcher’s elbow may have been rehabbed instead. But the mainstreaming of TJ surgery is not the only factor. Guys are throwing harder, throwing longer when they’re kids and they’re paying the price for it in elbow ligaments.

Based on what James Andrews had to say about it last month, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot Major League Baseball can do about this, as the damage being done to pitchers’ elbows is largely being done before they ever sign their first pro contract.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.