The San Diego Padres have been desperate for high-end pitching in recent seasons, and perhaps their most promising young arm has been left-hander Cory Luebke. The 28-year-old had a “breakout” of sorts in 2011, but since then, his career has been derailed by arm injuries that have cost him the majority of 2012 and all of 2013. Then, devastating news broke on Tuesday evening.
— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) February 5, 2014
Corey Brock of MLB.com was first to report that Luebke has a torn UCL in his throwing elbow, and as a result, he will miss all of the 2014 season and likely be forced to have a second “Tommy John” surgery to correct the issue. This is a horrible blow to both the player and the team, as there were high hopes for his recovery and subsequent return to San Diego’s staff.
In that breakout 2011 season, Luebke threw 139.2 innings over 46 appearances (17 starts) and he compiled a 3.29 ERA (3.02 xFIP) with 9.92 strikeouts per 9 innings. At that pace over a full season, the left-hander would have been one of the best pitchers in the National League, and that flash of upside caused San Diego to buy out his arbitration years with a nice contract.
Elbow issues have, unfortunately, been the norm since then, however, and with the latest setback, his long-term career prospects are certainly in jeopardy. A timeline for his return will be better projected after it is decided whether he’ll have surgery, but until then, you have to feel for Cory Luebke.