The Yankees announced Sunday morning that starting pitcher Ivan Nova has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, and that he'll be placed on the disabled list today, and will be further examined tomorrow in New York by Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad.
This is obviously far from good news for the Yankees. A UCL tear is the exact kind of injury that almost always needs Tommy John surgery. Nova and the Yankees could have two options when approaching a treatment: they could put him on the DL and just let him rehab back, or go straight for the Tommy John, get it out of the way and have him back in the rotation, hopefully, by the middle of next season.
Recent pitchers to suffer partical UCL tears and then decide to undergo TJS include New York Mets pitchers Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell.
Nova entered the season as the No. 4 starter, on paper, in the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka. They were really hoping that Nova would be able to carry the momentum of his second half performance last season into 2014, to help their rotation be one of the best in the game.
Nova, however, got off to a terrible start this season, and after holding the Boston Red Sox to two runs in 7-plus innings Sunday night, he was shelled for eight runs on eight homerun -- four homeruns -- before leaving in the middle of the 5th inning in Saturday night's 16-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays because of the injury.
The Obvious candidates to replace Nova in the rotation would be David Phelps and Adam Warren, who has actually settled in pretty nicely in the bullpen as a late-inning reliever. The Yankees could decide to keep Warren in the 'pen with the way things are going right now, and move Phelps into the rotation, where he has more experience as a starter. Or they could go with Vidal Nuno, who is starting against the Rays today.
If Nuno is able to put together a good performance -- on a 75-pitch limit, however -- he could state a case to be slotted into the rotation for the time being.