St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn will miss the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday.
Lynn, 28, was 12-11 with a 3.03 ERA in 31 starts this season and is 61-39 with a 3.37 ERA in 150 career games, including 128 starts, for St. Louis.
The Cardinals said surgeons repaired a torn ulnar collateral ligament in Lynn’s throwing elbow, while transposing the ulnar nerve and removing bone chips.
The news about Lynn puts pressure on Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak to bolster a rotation that could see the free-agent departure of starter John Lackey even as it welcomes back Adam Wainwright, who missed most of the season with a torn left Achilles’ tendon.
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Lynn averaged 189 innings pitched the last four seasons for the Cardinals, meaning another innings-eating pitcher will have to step up in 2016 for the Cardinals.
Fellow starter and National League All-Star Carlos Martinez (14-7, 3.01 ERA) will spend the winter in Jupiter, Fla., rehabbing a shoulder problem that shelved him at the end of the season. Michael Wacha (17-7, 3.39 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (10-6, 2.43 ERA) are expected to join Wainwright (2-1, 1.61 ERA) in the rotation in 2016.
Other candidates to take a starting job are left-handers Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney and Marco Gonzales.
St. Louis could also make a move for a prominent free-agent starting pitcher, including the likes of David Price, Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann. Price and Greinke, however, could command an annual salary of $20 million or more for years to come. Price could break the $200 million mark in a six- or-seven-year deal.
Other free-agent pitchers that could interest the Cardinals are Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir and Ian Kennedy.
The Cardinals on Friday made a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to Lackey, but made no mention of Lynn’s injury situation at the time. Lackey, whom the team was not expected to re-sign, could become an option for 2016 and beyond after Lynn’s setback.
The organization’s top minor-league pitching prospect, 21-year-old Alex Reyes, was suspended for 50 games Monday after testing positive for marijuana. The Cardinals expected him to push for a spot on the roster at some point next season. Instead, his development will be slowed by the suspension.
Lynn faded noticeably this season, and was passed over for a Game 4 start in the Division Series against the Chicago Cubs in favor of Lackey on three days’ rest.
60 Lynn’s victory total since 2012 for the Cardinals; only six other major-league pitchers have won more games in that span.
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Lynn was 18-7 in 2012, when he was named to the NL All-Star Team. He then posted back-to-back 15-10 seasons in 2013 and 2014.
Lynn’s 60 wins since 2012 are the sixth-highest total in the major leagues, trailing only Max Scherzer (69), Clayton Kershaw (67), Greinke (66), Madison Bumgarner (65) and Price (63 wins).
The Cardinals haven’t always been pleased with Lynn’s mound disposition. He dropped 40 pounds before the 2014 season and the team was satisfied with the results and complimentary of Lynn’s improved body language.
Lynn occasionally struggled with his emotions again this season, and the Cardinals were expected to listen to trade offers while being content if a deal did not materialize.