New York Mets righty Seth Lugo has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow. Traditionally this injury would lead to Tommy John surgery. Instead, Lugo was injected with platelet-rich plasma (PRP). This injection promotes healing of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. Los Angeles Angels starter Garrett Richards underwent the same procedure along with stem cell treatment last year. Richards completely avoided surgery and will make his season debut on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics.
What is a PRP injection?
When someone is injected with PRP, it means that more reparative cells are recruited to fix the injury. In theory, this means that the healing process is sped up significantly. However, these injections do not have a good track record of success in baseball players, but this can mainly be attributed to quality PRP not being readily available at most clinics or hospitals. That is why a combination of these injections and stem cell treatment is a more ideal alternative to Tommy John surgery.
Lugo figured to round out the back of the Mets rotation until Steven Matz recovers from his elbow injury. This injury is another blow to a Mets team that figured to have a good amount of starting pitching depth. For now they will roll with a rotation of Noah Syndergaard, who is nursing a blister on his throwing hand, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Robert Gsellman.
The depth-challenged Mets will not need to wait too long for Lugo’s return, or at least they hope. His injury is not very significant, meaning his recovery time could be even shorter. He will start a throwing program in two weeks. There is no timetable for his return to the mound. After a PRP injection, recovery time can be a minimum of a few weeks, or at maximum a few months.
When Lugo is reevaluated in two weeks it will be determined if the treatment was effective, or if he will in fact need Tommy John surgery after all.
Lugo looked to be a serviceable member of a talented rotation in 2017. In his rookie year in 2016, the 27-year-old Lugo posted a 2.67 ERA in 64 innings pitched between eight starts and nine relief appearances.