All signs are pointing to Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish needing Tommy John surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left elbow.  Yesterday, Darvish was examined by New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altcheck, who recommended Tommy John surgery.  Darvish and the Rangers will receive one final opinion, from noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, before making a final decision on the pitcher’s future.

James will not examine Darvish in person, but will review the results of an MRI which was performed last Friday.  The MRI revealed ligament damage and inflammation in Darvish’s expensive right elbow.  A decision is expected by the end of the week.

Daniels’ initial opinion does not bode well for Darvish. ”Things are likely headed down the path of surgery, no surprises, no real change there. But the final decision has not yet been made,” Daniels said. ”Assuming nothing, no new information comes along, which at this point I don’t expect, then get the surgery and get the rehab underway.”

Tommy John surgery will stall Darvish’s career until at least 2016.  The Japanese import has been elected to the All-Star game in each of his first three seasons, and has compiled a 39-25 record with a 3.27 ERA and an eye popping 11.2 K/9.  Darvish led the league in 2013 with 277 strikeouts.

Injury troubles first flared up with Darvish last season.  He began the season on the disabled list with neck stiffness, before being shut down for the season after only 22 starts due to elbow inflammation.  Now, it appears that initial inflammation may have been a sign of worse things to come.

The loss of Darvish will leave the Rangers with a gaping hole at the top of their rotation.  Yovani Gallardo, who was acquired from the Brewers over the offseason, will become the de facto ace.  Even with Darvish for the majority of last season, the Rangers pitching staff ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every category.  This may be too significant a blow for a team that was hoping to bounce back from a 67-95 record to recover from.

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