The decision has been made regarding Frank Herrmann's injured right elbow, and the decision is Tommy John surgery.
On Wednesday, Herrmann underwent Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow in New York. Dr. David Altchek performed the operation, which typically requires a recovery period of around 12-18 months.
Which means that not only will Herrmann miss the entire 2013 season, he'll likely miss the beginning of the 2014 season as well.
At first glance, Frank Herrmann seems insignificant. After all, a guy who was just "in the running" for a bullpen job, who wasn't going to contribute many high-leverage innings (if any) based on his past performances. I would have agreed with this, except for this: when he came back to the majors in September, Herrmann had, for the first time, a quality secondary pitch. He picked up the spike curve from Cody Allen late in the minor-league season, and when he returned to Cleveland, he was dominating both right and left-handed hitters:
Prior to that, Herrmann had a mid-90s fastball and little else, and as every major-leaguer can hit a fastball, he had trouble stringing together good outings. But a pitcher with two quality pitches can be a viable late-inning reliever, so the Indians kept him on the 40-man roster.
There's a possibility that the pitch that may have made him into a two-pitch pitcher also caused the ligament injury, but regardless of the cause, having the surgery at this stage in his career is really bad timing, for he seemed on the cusp of breaking into a full-time role. Had he had a full season of effective relief under his belt, it would be a lot easier to work his way back onto a major-league roster.
The one silver lining, and it's a very faint one, from this news is that the Indians will have an extra spot on the 40-man roster to add a player, as Herrmann will be placed on the 60-day DL as soon as they need the spot.