Nick Kingham Has Tommy John Surgery

The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that right-handed pitcher Nick Kingham underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, with the procedure performed by Dr. David Altcheck. Obviously the second opinion confirmed a torn UCL, which required the surgery.

This will put Kingham out for the entire 2015 season, obviously, and might hurt his chances of making it in 2016. Looking at the two big Tommy John surgery timelines from last year, I wouldn’t expect Kingham back until the very end of the season. Clay Holmes had his surgery in mid-March, and just threw an inning today. Jameson Taillon had his surgery at the start of April, and went three innings today (I’ll have an update on both shortly). Both are on pace to return by mid-June.

Kingham is having his surgery almost two months later than when Holmes and Taillon had their surgeries, which means he would probably return by mid-August 2016. I don’t know if that would give him enough time to make the majors, since he would probably still need some time in Indianapolis, and there would only be a few weeks left in that season. The most likely scenario is that he comes up in 2017, although a September call-up in 2016 is possible.

The most important thing here is a healthy recovery for Kingham. He was one of the top pitching prospects in the system prior to this injury, and he should return to that level when he’s healthy again. If the recovery goes well, I’d still project him as a guy who could be a key member of the Pirates’ rotation in the future, with the chance to be an innings eating number three starter.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 28, 2015 4:06 pm

    That was predictable, based on what I was reading between the lines of the last couple of updates….I feel bad for Kingham obviously, and the Pirates. More than likely, he will miss all of 2016 – or the vast majority of it. Taillon, Cumpton, Holmes, Kingham, and beat goes on….

  • Lets hope for a speedy and full recovery for Nick. Besides a great pitching talent , he’s a very nice young man. All the best!

  • Why does it take so long for Pirates Tommy John patients to come back? Look at Harvey from the Mets. Seems he came back much quicker and is still, in general, very effective.

    • silversalmon586
      May 28, 2015 3:06 pm

      He had in in October 2013. Missed all of 2014, but ready for 2015 – timing…

    • I think Morton was back in 12 months…that was quick

      • And Morton was an established Major Leaguer, as was Harvey.

        Seems the Pirates build developmental time into their recovery period for prospects, which makes sense to me.

        • And who knows. Maybe there’s something they can……I don’t want to say fix….but maybe some adjustment they can make they way they did with Taillon in his delivery and keeping the ball down. What was Kingham’s biggest flaw? A strikeout pitch?

          • That’s a tough one…I’m sure John and Tim would be better to ask, but I don’t see Kingham as really that type of pitcher. Not so much definable flaws as limited overall ceiling, at least if you assume the slight loss of command this spring was tied to injury.

    • Harvey was back in 18 months – longer than the Pirates’ pitchers. But the timing of his surgery was different. Anyway, why rush a young pitcher whose major league clock hasn’t started running yet?

  • This is prime example of why you can trade a top pitcher prospect for a major league star like Tulo. These pitcher prospects get TJ surgery like I used to roll an ankle. For a team that is literally 1 big time hitter away from having a deadly lineup, you have to pull the trigger.

    • jamminjoe66
      May 28, 2015 1:28 pm

      He’s a big time hitter in Colorado. His road #’s not so much then factor in PNC park, his contract & his injury history. Never gonna happen.

      • I’d rather see the trade be for Cole Hamels

        • Pretty sure the Pirates are on his no trade list. Ruben will want Glasnow and Bell without taking any of Hamels salary. Amaro is in outer space and also managed to insult the Phillies fans this week. A real gem.

          • Why would Pittsburgh be on anyone’s “no trade” list anymore given our pitching coaches and young talent

            • Honestly? I think he has 20 teams on his no trade list. I’m sure most of the teams are in warm climates given he’s from CA.

              • Well he already plays in PA- why would he have a team in the same state that is an actual good team with good coaching on his list. It’s pretty silly. No reason why you’d rather stay with phili than come here.

                • No Trade Lists are negotiating points to get something in return for waiving them. If the club agreed to 20 teams, the agent left off the teams that would have the least likelihood of pursuing a deal for Hamels (based on his perception) to leverage more money if he were dealt.

                  • I suppose that makes sense, but i’ve never heard that before. I’ll take your word for it. I don’t see how Hamels can really “get” anything outside his contract though, he either agrees to waive it for a certain team or he doesn’t. Wouldn’t that be against the collective bargaining agreement? If not, it seems it should be

          • He’s not going to get even one of those players honestly. He can hope all he wants.

            • Yeah. I live in Philly. Its pretty bleak here. Amaro has no sense of reality.

        • jamminjoe66
          May 28, 2015 4:01 pm

          I would prefer that also, but not overly wild about it either. I think it would take Taillon +… & I would rather have Taillon at his cost for the next 8 years then Hamel & his contract. I’d prefer a Cueto rental at smaller cost prospects wise & have Taillon to replace him next year

      • He is still a legit 2,3, or 4 hitter. Imagine the pitches he would see around those two. I honestly think he is the guy to make a run at. Worth the $ in todays, as well as future contracts for a top tier shortstop

        • What I am basically saying is it is not the end of the world to trade away a pitching prospect every now and then. I agree not to trade the farm, but with a handful of top pitching prospects, now is the time to solidify lineup as a national league contender this year as well as 16′ 17′. Or we can wait for the next top pitching to get TJ surgery and miss 14 months while rehabbing

          • As the lineup stands now, i see no reason its not already a national league contender. Slow start, but you have a quality option at 3B, SS (assuming you like Harrison at 3B and Kang at SS) 2B, LF, CF. I argue Pedro so far this year has been fine, so not a spot you easily upgrade without giving up a lot. Leaving C (where PIT clearly values defense and thus wont move Cervelli) and RF.

            But they arent gonna make a move for a player that blocks Polanco. I dont see a spot the team will even want to make a move for, as they have guys they like in house. Bell on the way to take 1B, so not really a large hole in the next 2-3 years either.

          • We have traded pitching prospects. Not the top ones, and why would you. Vic Black, Duke Welker to name 2. The bigger question are what we can get in return and for what period of time, what overall cost in propsects and what financial costs? I think the team has made some pretty good pickups over the years, Byrd, Morneau, Lee, Ludwick. At some point you have to trust that the FO knows what they are doing, and explores all of the options.

        • jamminjoe66
          May 28, 2015 4:04 pm

          I just don’t believe the difference between him outside of Colorado home games compared to PNC home games & Kang the next 4 years isn’t worth taking on that contract with the injury history.

      • Tulo’s road numbers in 2014-15 are slightly worse than Neil Walker’s – both for average and OPS. He’s a better fielder than NW but more injury prone. Also carries a $20M per year contract that runs through 2020 or 2021 – which is likely a few years past his prime. He may already be past his prime, given his injury history. He averaged 88 games per season from 2012-14.

        • With all of his injury problems, he is already 30 and still has 5 years remaining on his contract. He wont get injured less in his 30s than he has. I agree, his contract would be an albatross.

    • Yes, but the majority of pitchers make full recoveries from TJS. It is good that with both Kingham and Taillon that it happened before their major league clock was ticking.

  • While I hope for the best for Nick, I have to say that one of the things that irritate me about the Pirate’s FO is their lack of giving out information regarding players in a truthful manner. Wasn’t it just a couple of days ago that NH said that NK was still waiting for a second opinion from a doctor who was “busy”? And now we learn that not only was the second opinion given but surgery had been already performed the day before it was even announced.

    • I think Kingham tweeted on Tuesday that he was in New York. I’m guessing that’s when he had the opinion, and had surgery yesterday.

    • The team is not the only one to look at here. With medical privacy issues, players can have a say as to when information is released. Not sure why it matters anyway. Releasing the information changes nothing. We have no right to know.

  • I’m definitely thinking we’re gonna see Taillon this year if his command comes back in AAA. With Glasnow set to come up next year and Kingham no longer a depth option this year, you’d think that they’d bring up Taillon late this year with a chance to win a spot in the rotation out of spring training. With him already losing a year, you gotta think that service time can’t be too much of a concern.

    • Service time is always a concern

    • You won’t see Glasnow until June next year at the earliest. Without an improvement in control, it won’t be that soon.

      • His control has been fine this year….plenty good enough to pitch at any level.

      • Probably say the same thing with Tallion, unless injuries force the issue. Whey start the clock in Sept or April?

    • When in doubt, always assume service time is a big concern for the Pirates. Losing a month next year will be part of the discussion, and having options like Sadler impact things. History would suggest they will take it slow with Taillon, which doesnt bode well for having him thrown into the mix this season. I’d guess even Sampson would be a higher option than Taillon at August.

  • This must be frustrating as hell for him. No one wants to get TJ surgery but I’m sure he wasn’t oblivious to the fact that coming into the year a summer call up was a strong possibility. Now he’s essentially postponing his debut for possibly 2 years.

  • Tommy john is the new band-aid, got a boo boo just spray some antiseptic on and slap on a band-aid. Seriously though this is getting to the point where it’s become the punch line for a joke.

    • Yeah, with everything that we have learned about mechanics, carefully handling pitchers and proper training, I just don’t understand how the need for this surgery is skyrocketing.

      • I think the dirty little secret is that we already do know why the injuries are skyrocketing and how to prevent them.

        If an organization decided, as a matter of policy, to have their pitchers back off the effort in each pitch as a means of reducing stress on the arm, I think you’d see injuries plummet immediately.

        I also think that team would post some of the worst performances in the game, trotting out guys with fastballs in the mid to upper 80s with less bite on their breaking pitches and more time for the hitter to adjust to offspeed stuff. Expecting pitchers to turn into command artists necessary to succeed with that kind of this just isn’t realistic.

        With the number of premium arms growing, teams are treating pitchers like an expendable commodity at this point. Give us your best stuff until you blow, then next man up.

        • I dont see it that way. Velocity has always been important a ddid not create this number of injuries. Seaver, Ryan, Gibson and a ton more in that Era.

      • Luke sutton
        May 29, 2015 3:44 pm

        It doesnt help that the majority of little league and high school coaches either dont care as much as they should or dont know enough to deal with the issue. Some dont teach amazing mechanics, and some dont realize how using them as much as they do has a lasting effect longterm. By the time a kid reaches college, they can already have a lot of wear on that arm and not know how to deal with it.

        Its also tough for coaches, with many parents not okay with their kid sitting or not throwing every 5 days and sometimes sooner. You can have a kid saying “im fine” and the parent asking why you arent using the kid. At least a part of this issue starts way before the kid reaches a level where a coach knows a ton about proper mechanics and training.

  • Best wishes for a full recovery Nick.

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