Already expected to contribute minimally to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 2022 World Series run, Walker Buehler eliminated himself from postseason roster contention last week when it was revealed he’d undergo season-ending surgery on a mysterious elbow condition.
The specificity of that surgery was kept under wraps at the time, but Buehler himself spilled the beans on Instagram Tuesday. It was, in fact, Tommy John surgery, which will keep him out through the 2023 season, in all likelihood.
This is the second Tommy John procedure of Buehler’s career; his first came just after the 2015 Draft, leading to uncertainty as the flame-throwing righty transitioned to pro ball.
While the surgery has become quite commonplace in recent years, the certitude of a pitcher’s return to full strength diminishes when he’s forced to undergo a rare second procedure.
Buehler, en route to a Hall of Fame career prior to this unfortunate turn, will have to rely on the same rehabilitation process that kickstarted his Dodgers tenure the first time, while crossing his fingers for its effectiveness.
Dodgers ace Walker Buehler to undergo second Tommy John
Pitchers who’ve overcome having the surgery twice to thrive include Dodgers reliever Daniel Hudson (2012, 2013), as well as Red Sox fireballer Nathan Eovaldi (2007, 2016). Eovaldi’s case is theoretically much more predictive for Buehler; while some like Hudson have suffered setbacks in their rehab and needed additional procedures, Eovaldi, like Buehler, built a full career between the TJ that sidelined him as an amateur and the torn UCL he suffered during his time with the New York Yankees.
Eovaldi, of course, recovered to throw a filthy 100 MPH in shutting down the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series, and has largely been healthy ever since.
Buehler faces a long, but not impossible, road back. He’ll likely approach it as he does every challenge: with a brave, unblinking face, ready to rear back and fire.