The man for whom the surgery was named underwent the first ligament-replacement surgery in 1974 as a 31-year-old Dodgers lefty. John had won 124 games in his 12-season career until that point and he returned in 1976 and pitched 14 more years, winning 164 more games while making three All-Star teams and finishing as the Cy Young runner-up twice.
2 of 10John Biever/SI
Wood's rookie season of 1998 was highlighted by a record-tying 20-strikeout performance in just his fifth major league start at age 20. He won the NL Rookie fo the Year award but underwent Tommy John surgery before the 1999 season, which he missed while recovering. Wood returned in 2000 and has made All-Star teams as both a starter and reliever while extending his career into a third decade.
3 of 10David Bergman/SI
Smoltz was one of the game's elite starters throughout the 1990s, winning the 1996 NL Cy Young award and helping anchor the Braves' dynastic pitching staff. But he needed Tommy John surgery before the 2000 season and missed the entire year before returning as a relief pitcher in 2001. He was an All-Star closer through the 2004 season before rejoining the starting rotation and pitching until retiring after the 2009 season at age 42.
4 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
Marlins ace Josh Johnson debuted in 2006 with an impressive 12-7 record and 3.10 ERA. But after starting 2007 0-3 with a 7.47 ERA he was sidelined by Tommy John surgery in August. He returned to the big leagues in July 2008 and finished that year 7-1. In 2009, his first full year after surgery, Johnson turned in an All-Star season with a 15-5 record and a career-high 191 strikeouts.
5 of 10Robert Beck/SI
Carpenter won the 2005 NL Cy Young award after overcoming a serious shoulder injury that nearly ended his career. He was forced to miss all but five games combined in the 2007 and 2008 seasons because of Tommy John surgery and other ailments. He came back to go 17-4 with a NL-best 2.24 ERA at age 34 in 2009 and finished as the Cy Young runner-up, then went 16-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 2010 while making the All-Star team.
6 of 10Chuck Solomon/SI
After winning at least 11 games in each of his first nine seasons, Hudson was sidelined by Tommy John surgery midway through the 2008 season. He returned in late 2009 and had seven promising starts, but it was in 2010 that he truly regained his form. Hudson went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA, his best since 2003, and was named NL Comeback player of the year.
7 of 10Al Tielemans/SI
Wagner was a 37-year-old, six-time All-Star closer when he had Tommy John surgery in 2008. He returned at the end of the 2009 season and posted a 1.72 ERA in 17 games for the Mets and Red Sox before joining the Braves for the 2010 season. In what would be his final year in the bigs, Wagner saved 37 games, posted a 1.43 ERA and made his seventh All-Star team.
8 of 10Brad Mangin/SI
This season, Minnesota Twins pitcher Joe Nathan will return from Tommy John surgery to reclaim his closer role. Nathan sat out all of 2010 rehabbing from surgery last March. He hopes to restore his dominant form: he has posted 36 or more saves in each of the past six seasons as the Twins closer. During that tenure, Nathan also had a remarkable 1.87 ERA and a 0.934 WHIP.
9 of 10Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Twenty-two-year-old flame-throwing prodigy Stephen Strasburg lived up to his billing in 2010. In 12 major league starts, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft had a 2.91 ERA and tallied 92 strikeouts in only 68 innings. But in a start in late August against the Phillies, Strasburg was abruptly removed with a serious elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery in September. The Nationals will have to wait five to 11 more months for the expected recovery of their fallen star.
10 of 10John Biever/SI
The Cardinals postseason prospects for 2011 took a hit when Wainwright announced he would miss the entire season to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The 2010 runner-up for the NL Cy Young has accounted for 39 wins the past two seasons and owns a career 2.97 ERA. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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