Yesterday at the NFL Combine, Kevin Colbert caught us all by surprise when he said that Ben Roethlisberger may come back better than ever in 2020.
There's a reason for optimism if you look at MLB pitchers who have undergone similar procedures to the one that Roethlisberger had this year.
Stephen Strasburg had Tommy John surgery after his rookie season. He had a 2.91 ERA that year. His ERA was 1.51 in a small sample when he returned the next season.
Matt Harvey of the Mets had an ERA of 2.73 in his first season in MLB. After Tommy John, in the following season, his ERA was 2.71
Tim Hudson had Tommy John surgery at the age of 32. That was it for him, right? Nope. That year, he had a 3.17 ERA. His next full season, when he returned from injury, he finished 4th in Cy Young voting and had a 2.83 ERA.
Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young in 2005. He got surgery in 2007. In 2009, he finished 2nd in Cy Young voting and had a 31-10 record with a 2.62 ERA in his first 41 decisions after the procedure.
The point is, when Kevin Colbert says that Ben could be better, he’s not totally off base.
Now, Ben’s going to be 38 on March 2nd, and there’s something to be said about that. He could be worse off after having major surgery, but consider that Roethlisberger didn’t have to take a pounding for an entire season. He's going to be fresh.
The Steelers have been taking care of Roethlisberger for years by giving him Wednesday's off of practice during the season. They also take it easy on him in training camp. Ben's not going to have to throw the ball max effort 120 times every five days like major league starting pitchers.
When Kevin Colbert says that Ben could possibly come back better in 2020, it sounds crazy, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility.