As a Twins fan Francisco Liriano has made me well aware that coming back as strong as ever from Tommy John elbow surgery is far from guaranteed, but Josh Johnson of the Marlins is proving to be one of the operation's biggest success stories.
Johnson tossed a complete-game Sunday against the Blue Jays and is tied for the NL lead with a dozen Quality Starts in 14 tries. He's now 13-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts since returning from Tommy John surgery in the middle of last season and has basically improved his performance across the board since going under the knife:
IP SO/9 BB/9 GB/FB MPH Pre-Surgery 169 7.6 4.1 1.35 91.8 Post-Surgery 185 7.8 2.4 1.65 94.2
Johnson was a really good pitcher before the surgery, nearly winning the ERA title as a 22-year-old rookie in 2006, but since coming back his strikeouts are up slightly, his walks are down 40 percent, he's inducing 20 percent more ground balls, and his fastball has picked up another 2-3 miles per hour. Meanwhile, take a look at the same pre- and post-surgery comparison for Liriano:
IP SO/9 BB/9 GB/FB MPH Pre-Surgery 145 11.0 2.4 2.24 94.8 Post-Surgery 147 7.9 4.1 1.01 91.2
Liriano also nearly won the ERA title as a 22-year-old rookie and was basically as good as a starting pitcher can be, going 11-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121 innings while inducing over two ground balls for every fly ball. However, since the surgery his strikeouts are down 30 percent, his walks are up 70 percent, he's inducing as many fly balls as ground balls, and his fastball velocity has dropped 3-4 mph.