Cryptic Dave Roberts comments make Emmet Sheehan's Tommy John timeline more confusing

What...happened here?
Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers v Seattle Mariners / Stephen Brashear/GettyImages

Despite three signings in the offseason, worth almost $500 million, the Dodgers' rotation was limping right out of the gate as the 2024 season started. Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, James Paxton, and Gavin Stone were LA's only official starters, with Ryan Yarbrough stepping in as primary opener during bullpen games and de facto fifth starter.

They were holding out on the return of Walker Buehler, which eventually came on May 6, to make the rotation whole again, but in the interim they asked the bullpen to take on a lot more work and cycled out relievers from the minors as they exhausted arms over their first 40 or so games.

It all started with losing Emmet Sheehan, who was meant to take up one of those spots in the back end of the rotation with Paxton and Stone, but started the season on the IL after shoulder tightness kept him from pitching at all during spring training. The Dodgers revealed on Thursday that Sheehan had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, closing the door on any possibility of a return this year.

Dave Roberts explained the decision to have Sheehan go under the knife, but he didn't clarify much. He said there wasn't a "major setback," but that he "wasn't responding the way [the Dodgers] hoped." What does that even mean? And wasn't it, initially, a shoulder injury?

Dave Roberts' justification for Emmet Sheehan's shock Tommy John surgery didn't clarify much

Sheehan began the season on the 15-day IL but was moved to the 60-day just a few days after play started, and his throwing program went through starts and stops before the Dodgers announced the surgery. Roberts had been sending mixed messages about Sheehan's progress throughout that time — sometimes he was looking good, other times he had been completely shut down from throwing for a few days.

And his explanation for the eventual surgery doesn't really paint a helpful picture in terms of the Dodgers' decision-making process. The soreness was originally located in Sheehan's shoulder, and Tommy John is a elbow surgery. Of course, the overall soreness could've been symptomatic of a UCL injury, but the issues initially reported didn't seem to indicate that. The way Robert said it, it sounds a little like the Dodgers just shrugged and decided to have Sheehan undergo a major operation because they couldn't figure out what the problem was.

If all goes very well, Sheehan could be ready to pitch again by midseason, but it's more likely that he'll start 2025 on the IL, then start a rehab stint and return late in the year, if at all.