Andrew Brackman has had a disastrous first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery. The numbers, from Pete Abe:
The stats for Brackman: 1-11 with a 6.72 ERA in 18 starts in low A ball. He has struck out 79 over 85.2 innings. But he also has walked 64, thrown 22 wild pitches and given up 89 hits.
Andrew’s awful performance have lead some to declare that he is a bust. However, an understanding of the procedure he had and the necessary recovery time actually makes this season a moderate success:
Medically, most pitchers are ready to return to action in 12-15 months. Frequently, it’s another year before they return to form.
“It takes a good two years to really have a good feel again,” says Gordon, who struggled with tendinitis his first year back.
Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley calls it getting the “feel of the ball.” It’s finding the arm slot, the release point, basically, learning how to pitch all over again. “They keep their heads above water and contribute but they’re not as consistent” the first year back, Wiley says.
“We’re doing now in a year basically what it takes us a whole lifetime to do (the first time),” adds Lieber, who was listed on the Yankees’ 40-man roster last January with hopes of earning a spot in the rotation for the ’04 season.
This August will mark two years from the surgery for Brackman. The key to this season for him was staying healthy and building up some arm strength, and he did both. He has currently hit a wall or “dead arm period,” something that happens to most TJS patients. If he pitches like this to start next season, the bust label may be appropriate. Until then, he remains a lottery ticket, one that could pay off in a big way should the Yankees remain patient with him.