Early Tuesday, it was reported that Edinson Volquez was scheduled to be deactivated for the rest of the season due to perceived knee tendinitis.
However, in the middle of the game on Tuesday night, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill addressed the media with the news that Volquez was actually set to go undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a tear in his UCL. Apparently, while Volquez was throwing as part of his rehabilitation program, he tweaked his elbow. A subsequent MRI revealed that he had indeed torn his UCL. Marlins’ broadcaster Rich Waltz broke the news over the Marlins telecast.
Steady Eddie went 4-8 over 17 total games with an ERA of 4.19 and a FIP of 4.34. Without question, the highlight of Volquez’ year was the no-hitter he threw on June 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in which he struck out ten, walked two, and coaxed a season-high 73.3% ground ball rate.
The time-frame for Tommy John surgery is 12-16 months. Not counting top prospects Braxton Garrett and Tyler Kolek, the last Major League Marlin to receive Tommy John surgery was Jose Fernandez. Fernandez went under the knife on May 6, 2014, and returned just under 14 months later, on July 2, 2015. For Volquez, a 14 month recovery will land him in the last month of his last contract year with the Marlins. Thus, in addition to accounting for their rotational needs in a year, the Marlins decision to re-sign him Volquez likely be contingent on the 35 year old’s recovery.
In the meantime, the Marlins’ rotation is standing pat with Dan Straily, Jose Ureña, Adam Conley, Vance Worley, and Chris O’Grady. Should any other pitchers go down with injuries, Tom Koehler and Justin Nicolino wait in the wings in Triple-A. Finally, while he also has a UCL tear, Wei-Yen Chen is attempting to rehab past Tommy John surgery in hopes of rejoining the team by the end of the season.
With no proven ace, it’s an inevitable truth that the Marlins will need to deal for a pitcher if they still want to fight a rebuild and remain competitive. However, in the wake of the injuries to Volquez and Chen, the door is left open for young guns like Ureña, Conley, O’Grady, and Koehler to finish the season strong and make an impression on the Marlins brass. Doing so could get any one of them a foot in the door to make the starting rotation in 2018.