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MLB: Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt and the Top 10 Young Aces Threatened By Surgery

Constantine MadiasCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2011

MLB: Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt and the Top 10 Young Aces Threatened By Surgery

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The St. Louis Cardinals have recently suffered a devastating blow upon learning that star pitcher Adam Wainwright has a severe elbow injury.  Wainwright won 20 games for the Cards in 2010, posting a 2.42 ERA.

    Unfortunately, injured aces around the major leagues is nothing new.

    The Cubs lost top young pitcher Mark Prior to injury, and Brandon Webb, now with the Texas Rangers, is another sad story.

    Let's take a look at some top aces from the recent years who have faced career-threatening surgery.

10. Erik Bedard

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Erik Bedard had Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm in 2002.

    He's battled injuries to that same arm his entire career, but seemed to finally get healthy in 2006 and 2007 with Seattle.  Bedard went 13-5 in 28 starts with the Mariners in 2007 and signed a new deal with Baltimore in 2008.

    Bedard only started 30 total games in 2008 and 2009 combined, as he could never get healthy for a long period of time.  He recently had surgery in both 2009 and 2010, and he is now 30 years old.

    After striking out 221 batters and finishing fifth in the 2007 AL Cy Young race, Bedard has never been the same.

9. Edinson Volquez

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Edinson Volquez injured his throwing arm in May of the 2009 season.  He had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009 and has yet to show glimpses of his old self after struggling for the Reds in his comeback late in 2010.

    He went 17-6 for Cincinnati as a rookie in 2008, and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting.

    Volquez is still only 27 years old, so he has time to rebuild his career.

8. Jake Peavy

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In 2009, Jake Peavy was dealt from the San Diego Padres to the Chicago White Sox with the intentions of being Chicago's ace.

    Peavy, despite minimal run support, dazzled in his time with the Padres. He won a Cy Young Award in 2007, going 19-6 with 240 strikeouts.

    He only pitched three games for the White Sox in 2009, and in July of 2010, he had season-ending back surgery.

    At 29 years old, Peavy is no longer as dominant as he once was, and he's no longer an ace.

7. Francisco Liriano

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Francisco Liriano was a devastating story for the Minnesota Twins in 2006.

    As a rookie, he began the season 12-3, led the majors with a 2.19 ERA and was at the top of the list for Cy Young candidates.

    His throwing elbow became inflamed, and he was placed on the disabled list in August. He had Tommy John surgery in November of 2006 and missed the entire 2007 season.

    He was a miserable 5-13 in 2009, but finished a respectable 14-10 for the playoff-bound Twins in 2010.

    Liriano is still the ace for Minnesota and figures to have several years left in him if he manages to stay healthy. 

6. Roy Oswalt

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    To date, Roy Oswalt has been one of the most efficient pitchers in the major leagues over the past decade.

    He survived all of his major injuries with the Houston Astros and is currently one of the four stars pitching in Philadelphia.

    Oswalt had groin surgery in 2003 at age 25, but he rebounded phenomenally the next season, going 20-10 with a 3.49 ERA.

    Injuries continue to linger for Oswalt every season, but he manages to be one of the best pitchers in baseball despite his ailments.

    Oswalt is still a great asset at the age of 33.

5. Yovani Gallardo

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    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Yovani Gallardo made his debut for the Brewers in 2007 and began his 2008 season on the disabled list after having ligaments repaired in his right knee.

    On May 1, 2008, after trying to avoid a collision at first base in a game against the Cubs, Gallardo tore his ACL.  He miraculously did not have surgery again though and started the Brewers' first playoff game in 2008.

    Luckily for Milwaukee, Gallardo has less pressure on himself with the recent acquisition of Zack Greinke, and he is still very young.  If Gallardo can manage his control issues, he has a very promising career ahead of him.

4. Brandon Webb

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    In his late 20's, Brandon Webb was one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

    He won the 2006 NL Cy Young Award and won 22 games in 2008.

    However, in 2009, Webb was placed on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis after only pitching four innings during the season.  He spent the entire 2010 season rehabbing his injury and has been given a chance to rebound with the Texas Rangers. 

    Webb is a sad story, because his potential was sky high.

3. Adam Wainwright

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    As of Feb. 23, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals' front office is not optimistic about Adam Wainwright's recent elbow injury.

    He hurt his elbow in a bullpen session on Feb. 21, and rumors suggest he could be lost for the season due to surgery.

    Wainwright won 20 games for St. Louis in 2010, and he's arguably a top-three National League pitcher.  He has gone a combined 39-19 over the past two seasons, and he's just 29 years old.

    The Cardinals hope for the best with him, as his injury leaves their playoff chances in question.  There is no official word yet, but surgery is likely.

2. Stephen Strasburg

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    This kid was the most highly-touted baseball prospect in a very long time.

    Sports Illustrated called his season debut on June 8, 2010, "The most hyped pitching debut the game has ever seen."

    At only 22 years old, Strasburg was able to consistently throw the ball more than 100 MPH, while also possessing a wicked slider and curveball.

    He struck out 14 batters in his debut, but would later tear his UCL in August 2010, requiring Tommy John surgery.

    The young stud is expected to miss 12-18 months, and the Nationals won't rush his return.

1. Mark Prior

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Mark Prior's heart-breaking, shortened career was dreadful for Cubs fans.

    He went 18-6 in 2003 and pitched in Game 6 of the NLCS, or the infamous "Bartman Game."

    Prior's lingering injuries were blamed on Dusty Baker's unwillingness to lower his pitch count. He had the most potential of any young pitcher at just 23 years old in 2003, but he never got healthy.

    After rumors of Tommy John surgery and an Achilles tendon injury in 2004, Pryor was never the same.  He eventually went on to have emergency surgery in 2007 while with the Cubs, and he never pitched for them again.

    Prior then moved on to the San Diego Padres, where he never regained his old form.

    His story is one of wasted potential and the worst imaginable for a young ace in the Major Leagues.

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