Indians right-hander Cody Anderson will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2017 season, the team announced (Twitter link via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com). Anderson made the decision after a second opinion confirmed both a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and a mild flexor strain.
The unfortunate news for Anderson comes as an unexpected development, as manager Terry Francona indicated earlier this month that the 26-year-old would likely avoid surgery. Instead, Anderson will undergo the second procedure on his elbow since November, when he had arthroscopic surgery.
Anderson would not have cracked an Indians rotation that’s set to feature Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. However, he likely would have factored into the equation this year as either starting depth and/or in a long relief role. He made 19 appearances, nine of which were starts, for the American League champions last year and pitched to an unsightly 6.68 ERA in 60 2/3 innings, though he encouraged with his K/9 (8.01), BB/9 (1.93) and swinging-strike rate (12.2 percent). Anderson also saw his average fastball velocity jump from 92.1 mph in 2015 to 93.5 mph last year. That came after a 2015 debut in which Anderson pitched to a sparkling 3.05 ERA in 91 1/3 innings and 15 appearances (all starts), albeit with worse numbers in the other categories (4.34 K/9, 2.36 BB/9 and 7.8 percent swinging-strike rate).
Anderson, who’s in his penultimate season of pre-arbitration eligibility, will lose a year of service time as he spends 2017 recovering on the disabled list. Meanwhile, more opportunities could come this season for any of Hoby Millner, Mike Clevinger or 2016 postseason hero Ryan Merritt, among others (depth chart).
In another less-than-ideal development for the Indians, second baseman Jason Kipnis is roughly four to five weeks from returning to major league action. Kipnis went for a second opinion on his bothersome right shoulder, and Dr. Keith Meister concurred with Indians doctors that he’s dealing with inflammation. If the Kipnis-less Indians don’t venture outside the organization for help at the keystone, they could turn to in-house options Erik Gonzalez, Michael Martinez or Ronny Rodriguez. Alternatively, Francona said this week that third baseman Jose Ramirez could head to second, which would leave the hot corner to Gonzalez, Giovanny Urshela or Richie Shaffer (Twitter link via Bastian).
On a positive note, Michael Brantley will make his spring debut on Monday and play left field. An integral cog from 2014-15, when he slashed an outstanding .319/.382/.494 with 35 home runs and 38 steals across 1,272 plate appearances, Brantley totaled just 11 PAs last year on account of shoulder troubles. The 29-year-old underwent shoulder surgery in November 2015 and again last August.