Matt Moore left his start on Tuesday with elbow discomfort, and was quickly placed on the 15-day DL. At first it looked like he had avoided a serious injury, but after two MRIs, it has become apparent that he has a partial tear of his UCL. Because it is just a partial tear, Moore could attempt to rehab the injury and try to come back this season, or he could just go ahead and have Tommy John surgery. Which is the better option?
The Rays are trying to make a run at the World Series this year, but Moore’s injury has opened up a hole in the rotation. Don’t get me wrong, no one player makes or breaks a team, but the Rays are a better team with Moore in the rotation than they are without. Thus, they could try to have Moore rehab his injury and come back later this year. Because this might be their best chance at a championship in the next few years, it is conceivable that the Rays could choose this option. If Moore’s rehab was successful and he came back healthy, then the Rays would be a better team down the stretch, and would have a better chance of winning a World Series title.
However, the risk in this is that Moore would not be healthy even after rehab. There have been pitchers that have tried to rehab this type of injury in the past, but when they come back they are not healthy. Instead, they have wasted two or three months of rehabbing, and are forced to undergo Tommy John surgery anyways. If Moore were to forgo Tommy John surgery, only to have to have it three months down the road, it would also be a significant hit to the Rays’ 2015 hopes, as well as Moore’s development as a pitcher. Every day that Moore delays Tommy John is one more day that he will miss in 2015 if rehab is not successful. Is it worth potentially hurting the Rays’ club even more, and Moore’s development as a pitcher, just for there to be a chance he can return this season?
In the end, Matt Moore should just go ahead and get the surgery. Yes it hurts the Rays’ hopes this year, but thanks to Andrew Friedman’s knack for putting together depth, the Rays are more prepared to makeup for the injury than most other clubs would be. Jeremy Hellickson, a very capable pitcher himself, will be back from injury in late-May or early-June, and the Rays have Erik Bedard, Cesar Ramos, and Nate Karns able to fill in until that point. If you allow Moore to rehab, there is a real chance, if not a likelihood, that he would have to undergo Tommy John anyways. It is not worth the risk of him missing significant time in 2015 just for him to pitch for a couple of months at the end of this season. Not only that, but if Moore missed most of 2014 AND 2015, then it is going to hurt his potential to develop as an ace down the road. Also, with David Price likely on his way out after this season, the Rays are really going to need Moore in the 2015 rotation to be able to compete. The risk outweighs the reward, and thus, the Rays and Moore need to cut their losses and have him undergo Tommy John surgery.