Angels righty Alex Meyer is set to undergo surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum, the club announced. He is expected to be sidelined for approximately twelve months, making it unlikely that he’ll be able to pitch in the 2018 season.
Needless to say, the Halos continue to endure miserable luck when it comes to pitching injuries. A variety of other promising young hurlers have required major surgeries in recent years, too. While most of the earlier injuries are now resolved, Meyer joins Matt Shoemaker and JC Ramirez in going down for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Unfortunately, Meyer’s injury also appears to be the most serious. Labral tears can be overcome, but frequently aren’t. While the anticipated time off makes Meyer’s procedure seem something like Tommy John surgery, the odds that he’ll make a full return aren’t nearly as high as those of a typical TJ patient. Of course, there’s also an immense amount that we don’t known (and likely wouldn’t fully understand) about the nature of Meyer’s particular case.
Ultimately, it’s far too soon to know how this’ll all turn out, but it’s awful news for the 6’9 righty. Meyer has long dealt with problems with his shoulder, even while struggling to iron out a repeatable delivery that would allow him to harness his compelling raw stuff. The Angels acquired him in an interesting, four-player swap at last year’s trade deadline in hopes that Meyer could still make good on his talent.
Though he had largely struggled in the majors in prior action with the Twins, Meyer finally put together a run of success this year in Los Angeles. Over 67 1/3 innings across 13 starts, he worked to a 3.74 ERA. While he still dealt with control problems, handing out 42 free passes, he also racked up 75 strikeouts and limited opposing hitters to just 48 base knocks and six long balls.
There were plenty of encouraging signs for the former top prospect before he was knocked out with what was then described as shoulder inflammation. Meyer worked at his typical 96.5 mph average four-seam velocity and boosted his swinging-strike rate to a solid 10.7%. He also carried slightly above-average groundball (46.5%) and infield-fly (11.3%) rates. Meyer was never better than in his last outing, a one-hit gem against the Nationals — the team that originally drafted him out of the University of Kentucky.
From this point forward, Meyer faces a long road. Beyond the immediate surgery and rehab, he’ll be battling against a longer trend of health problems. Indeed, Meyer hasn’t thrown more than a hundred innings in a season (at all levels) since 2014. At this point, it’s fair to wonder whether Meyer will even look to return as a starter, or instead move into a relief role once he’s back to health.
In the end, though, there’s still hope that Meyer can return — and do so with the Halos. He will enter the 2019 season with just over two full years of MLB service, so Los Angeles can wait and see how things go without making any financial commitments. And if Meyer can indeed make it back, he’ll still have at least four years of team control remaining.