, pub-3283090343984743, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Cristian Javier To Undergo Tommy John Surgery
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Cristian Javier To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

The Astros are losing right-hander Cristian Javier to Tommy John surgery, reports Chandler Rome of The Athletic. He’ll undergo the procedure on Thursday and will likely be out at least into the second half of the 2025 season.

Javier landed on the 15-day injured list last week after reporting forearm discomfort during a bullpen session between starts. While the team initially expressed optimism he wouldn’t be out for too long, testing has evidently revealed damage to the UCL in his elbow. It’s the second tough blow in as many days for Houston; righty José Urquidy also could be headed for Tommy John after leaving a recent minor league rehab start with forearm discomfort of his own.

Losing Javier is an even more significant development. The 27-year-old has blossomed into a quality mid-rotation arm over the past few seasons. He had a breakout year in 2022, working to a 2.54 ERA while striking out almost a third of opposing hitters over 148 2/3 innings. The Astros signed him to a five-year, $64MM extension — a record guarantee for a pitcher with between three and four years of service — headed into the 2023 season.

Chandler Rome

Javier had a relative down year, allowing 4.56 earned runs per nine with a 23.1% strikeout rate that was only a little better than league average. He stayed healthy and logged 31 regular season starts and a trio of postseason outings. His efforts at a rebound in 2024 were unfortunately wrecked by injury. Javier lost a couple weeks between April and May with what the team called neck discomfort. He returned on May 11 and pitched three times before suffering the elbow injury. His season concludes with a 3.89 ERA over seven starts.

The Astros opened the season without Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia, each of whom are working back from elbow procedures they underwent in 2023. With Javier and potentially Urquidy joining them, Houston is down four MLB-caliber starters. That has predictably taken a significant toll on the rotation, which looks quite thin beyond Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander.

Ronel Blanco has stepped up with a 2.44 ERA over 10 starts after winning the fifth starter job in camp. He’s now an integral piece of the rotation, but he’s 30 years old and entered the year with seven major league starts under his belt. Hunter Brown and rookie Spencer Arrighetti occupy the last two rotation spots. While they each rebounded from terrible performances in April to turn in strong numbers in May, their season lines are still poor. Recent minor league signee Eric Lauer is essentially the only starter with notable MLB experience in the organization at Triple-A. J.P. France is on the minor league IL with a shoulder problem.

Houston’s rotation struggles have been perhaps the biggest factor in their underwhelming 27-34 start. General manager Dana Brown reiterated last night that he anticipated approaching the deadline as a buyer. Whether Brown knew for certain that Javier was headed for surgery isn’t clear, but he was surely aware it was a possibility at that time. The Astros may be one of upwards of a dozen teams that could try to add from a limited pool of starting pitching available this summer.

The Astros can move Javier to the 60-day injured list when they need to create a 40-man roster spot. They must reinstate him over the offseason before putting him back on the IL next spring. The righty is making $7MM this season and will earn a $10MM salary in 2025. He’s under contract for $21MM apiece between 2026-27.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.