Last night was a disaster. Ivan Nova was blown up for six runs on four home runs in four innings, but the worst part of it came when he noticeably shook his arm in the middle of an at-bat in the fifth inning and was promptly removed from the game. He underwent a precautionary MRI that same night and the results are very troubling as it turns out he has a partially torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament, the ligament that is associated with Tommy John surgery.
Nova will have a second opinion and he will have to decide on either rehab or going under the knife, but the likely outcome will be surgery. If Nova goes down he will join the battalion of young pitchers, including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Patrick Corbin, and Matt Moore, to only name a few, who have gone down with the same injury in the last few months. There have been pitchers like Adam Wainwright who have been able to pitch for a few years without surgery, but even in that rare instance, surgery was eventually necessary.
In all likelihood, we have probably seen the last of Nova in 2014 and at least part of 2015 too. Tommy John surgery usually takes about a full year to recover from, so if he elects to have surgery, he should be ready to pitch by this time next year. Still, it won't be that simple as it could take an additional six months for him to recover fully and be the pitcher he once was, if that's even possible. In today's world Tommy John surgery has become very commonplace and simplified which might lead people to think it's no big deal. Of course, surgery is still surgery, and while many pitchers do eventually recover, some are never the same again.
For right now, the Yankees are likely to replace Nova with one of Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, or Adam Warren. There's also an outside shot that, if Nova is placed on the 60-day disabled list, they could bring up Alfredo Aceves from Triple-A. My money would be on Phelps, though.
Nova: This is hard ... i don't even know what to tell you guys ... I'm so sad right now— Meredith Marakovits (@M_Marakovits) April 20, 2014