Iowa starter C.J. Eldred done for season after elbow surgery

Dargan Southard

Iowa right-hander C.J. Eldred will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, the team announced Thursday.

Iowa pitcher C.J. Eldred (33) throws in the top of the first inning against Maryland at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Friday, March 25, 2016.

Eldred had the surgery Wednesday in St. Louis and is expected to miss the next seven to eight months.

After making his season-opening start against South Florida on Feb. 18, Eldred began having problems with the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow, which forced him to miss his next three turns through the weekend rotation.

Following the Hawkeyes' 12-8 win over Northern Illinois on March 7, coach Rick Heller seemed optimistic that Eldred was nearing return, saying that Iowa “hoped for something” from Eldred in the upcoming weekend slate against Villanova, Bucknell and Lehigh in Florida. But Eldred didn’t appear in any of those contests. Three days later, he had Tommy John surgery.

Eldred’s loss delivers a significant blow to the Hawkeyes’ weekend rotation. He was the solidified Saturday starter behind Nick Gallagher and brought an established veteran presence to the pitching staff. With a slew of pitching injuries already on the books, Iowa will likely have to lean on a number of underclassmen and newcomers to help fill the void.

Freshman Grant Judkins, Ole Miss transfer Drake Robison and sophomores Shane Ritter and Cole McDonald have all made starts this season, and some combination of that group will likely be implemented in the rotation going forward.