The Washington Nationals famously shut down their pitching ace Stephen Strasburgh. The Nationals announced they were shutting him down earlier in the season because of the Tommy John surgery he’s still recovering from and since then there has been a whole lot of noise about whether it’s right or wrong. However, not a lot of people are talking about Kris Medlen’s comeback or what the San Francisco Giants are going to do about closer Brian Wilson.
Medlen is gaining a lot of exposure about how the Atlanta Braves rehabbed him and how well he’s doing. In fact the Braves have now won the last 20 games in which he has started. Another big question out there is how will the Giants treat their All-Star closer Brian Wilson when he’s ready to comeback?
Wilson, aka Fear the Beard, aka Willie, has had Tommy John surgery before. It was done back when he was at LSU. So unlike Strasburgh and Medlen, Wilson is older and having to do this for a second time. Unlike Strasburgh and Medlan, Wilson is a closer and only pitches an inning or an inning and a half so the Giants don’t have to have to rehab him like a starter. They don’t have to worry about him being able to pitch six or seven innings like the Nationals and Braves did with their pitchers.
Wilson is also a veteran. He’s won a World Series. He’s been to a few All-Star games but he’s also 30. That last point alone begs the question, ‘will he be able to recover like these younger pitchers?’ The surgery Wilson, Strasburgh and Medlan had is named after the pitcher who first had the surgery, Tommy John. John had the experimental surgery at the age of 31 and pitched until the age of 46. If your a Giants fan that’s good news. However John had the surgery once not twice by that age.
Baseball is a physical sport. It’s a marathon and probably more physically demanding for pitchers. The overhand throwing motion is not a natural motion for the human body. While it’s amazing science to have a tendon replaced it’s probably even more amazing to return to throwing a baseball at high velocity in front of thousands of people.
What this really comes down to is the pitchers state of mind. If Wilson can stay positive and overcome the mental rigors of rehab then Giants fans have reason to hope. If for some reason he can’t then the Giants may have to find a longer term solution to closing baseball games than Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez.