After over a year away from the game because of Tommy John surgery, St. Louis Cardinals righty Alex Reyes is finally coming back. Per multiple sources, Reyes has been activated from the 60-day disabled list today and will make his first start of the season this afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. It will be Reyes' first appearance since September 29, 2016, when he tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Cincinnati Reds, striking out six in a no-decision.
Tommy John surgery is no laughing matter, though, so fans should temper their expectations of Reyes, at least for his first start. It could take an appearance or two on the major league level for him to get his wheels under him, but the 23-year-old still has a high ceiling despite coming back from an elbow injury.
And in a competitive NL Central (sans the Cincinnati Reds, of course), Reyes' return could not be coming at a better time.
Reyes the pitcher
Reyes burst on the scene late in 2016 and immediately impressed. In 12 games, five of which he started, he posted a record of 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts in 46 innings. The Elizabeth, New Jersey native also posted a respectable ground ball rate (GB%) of 43.2% and his hard contact rate was only 21.4%. Using a fastball, slider, changeup, and sometimes a curveball, Reyes was slowly looking like a future impact arm in the Cardinals' rotation.
Reyes' fastball velocity and his overall durability will be things to watch since he's just getting back from Tommy John surgery, but early reports suggest he's doing just fine. He didn't allow a single earned run over 23 innings during his rehab assignment across four levels of the Cardinals' minor league system, and he struck out 44 batters over that stretch too. Simply put, as serious as Tommy John surgery is, it doesn't look like Reyes is any worse for the wear.