Skaggs set for Tommy John surgery
'Dumbfounded' on how it happened, lefty won't pitch again until 2016
ANAHEIM -- What began as the best outing of Tyler Skaggs' season ended with the most devastating injury of his young career.
The Angels revealed Sunday that their 23-year-old left-hander suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament while throwing 4 2/3 no-hit innings from Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 31 and will now undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Thank you everyone for the kind words! It's a hard day but only a small bump in the road #2016- Tyler Skaggs (@TylerSkaggs37) August 10, 2014
The procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Neal Elattrache in Los Angeles on Wednesday, comes with a 12- to 18-month recovery. Skaggs won't pitch until the start of the 2016 season, no matter how good he feels at this time next year.
"I'm still kind of dumbfounded on how it happened," Skaggs said. "It's hard to go from throwing 95 to 87; or giving up no hits, thinking it's turning into something special, and then all of a sudden you throw one pitch and you can't feel your hand."
Initial tests in Baltimore diagnosed him with a forearm strain and Skaggs believed his UCL was sound. The following day, he underwent an MRI in St. Petersburg, Fla., but there was too much inflammation in his forearm to get an accurate reading on his UCL. Earlier this week, a couple of MRIs with a contrasting agent revealed the partial tear in his crucial ligament.
The Angels then gave Skaggs a choice: Rehab the injury with platelet-rich plasma therapy, which Skaggs was told only works "for two out of 10 guys" or undergo the invasive surgery, at an age that plays favorably to a full recovery.
Skaggs spoke to his family, his agent and current players who have undergone the procedure -- including former Minor League teammates Jarrod Parker and Patrick Corbin -- and informed the Angels of his decision to have surgery on Friday.
"I felt in my heart, in my gut, that I needed to get this done so I could be 100 percent out there and not look back over my shoulder and think, 'Should I let this one go or lob it up there and see how it feels?'" Skaggs said.
"He did a very good job taking the steps he needed to take to establish himself as a full-time Major League starter; now he's going to go through a long rehab," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "The good thing is he's young. The area around the UCL ligament is in good shape. For all intents and purposes, we are anticipating a full recovery in 2016.
Skaggs was drafted by the Angels in the first round in 2009, was the player to be named later in the July 2010 trade with the D-backs that brought Dan Haren to Southern California and was reacquired in December 2013, in the three-team deal that also landed Hector Santiago from the White Sox and sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona.
The Santa Monica, Calif., product was practically handed a rotation spot out of Spring Training and showed plenty of promise while going 5-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 18 starts.
"It's a tough situation for a young kid, but he works hard and he's driven," teammate Garrett Richards said. "I don't think Tyler's going to have a problem with this. We all know he's going to work hard to get back. He's got a pretty level head on his shoulder, and from what I've talked to him, he's bummed out but he's confident and he's ready to go through it."
The Angels will continue to monitor the waiver wire in hopes of attaining additional starting-pitching depth, and Dipoto admitted Skaggs' injury will prompt him to look for free-agent starting-pitching help over the offseason (though likely in the form of short contracts for back-end arms, not aces pitchers like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester).
But that's down the road, and outside help doesn't figure to be readily available this month. So the Angels -- four games back of the A's in the American League West heading into Sunday's game, but nursing a 5 1/2-game cushion in the Wild Card standings -- will lean heavily on their current five-man rotation.
The Halos will need Matt Shoemaker and Santiago to step up in support of Richards and Jered Weaver. And they'll need C.J. Wilson -- 11.03 ERA in his last six starts -- to get it together.
"He's very disappointed," manager Mike Scioscia said of Skaggs, "but as he began to understand the situation, he definitely came to grips with it. He'll move forward, work hard to get back on the right schedule to where he's healthy and ready to go in 2016."