Just when things were beginning to look up for the Washington Nationals it is being reported (via twitter) on ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. that Stephen Strasburg has a significant ligament tear in his right elbow and may need Tommy John surgery.

Tommy John surgery or ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is where a ligament in the elbow is replaced by a tendon from the patient’s forearm.

In the past this would almost spell the end of a pitching career or hamper it.

However, the full recovery rate from this surgery is now between 85 and 92 percent.

That is indeed good news for Strasburg and the Nationals, but the bad news is that full recovery takes about one year.  So any hopes of a Strasburg-lead run at the postseason might have to be put off until 2012.

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