ATLANTA GA – OCTOBER 4: Lance Lynn #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the first inning of the second baseball game in a double header against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on October 4, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)

Cardinals’ Lance Lynn out for 2016 after having Tommy John surgery

Just as the MLB offseason kicks into gear, the St. Louis Cardinals suffer a significant blow to their starting rotation. Lance Lynn will be out for the entire 2016 season after having reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.

According to the Cardinals’ official website, Lynn also had the ulnar nerve in his arm transposed, along with removing bone chips. So his right arm sounds like it was in pretty bad shape. The right-hander still had a strong 2015 season, compiling a 3.03 ERA in 31 starts and striking out 167 batters in 175.1 innings.

Despite losing Adam Wainwright for most of 2015, the St. Louis rotation led MLB with a 2.99 ERA. But John Lackey is a free agent and the market might price him beyond what the Cardinals want to pay for a 37-year-old pitcher. Without Lynn, the starting staff could be down two arms. Carlos Martinez looks like an ace-in-waiting and Michael Wacha will ideally be ready to throw 200 innings, but Jaime Garcia can’t be relied upon to make it through a full season and Marco Gonzales is still a work in progress.

So while the Cardinals presumably have five arms to fill their rotation to begin next season, if everyone makes it through the offseason and spring healthy, with Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney also possibilities, GM John Mozeliak probably has to look at adding an arm through free agency or trade.

One option he won’t have for the first 50 games of next season is Alex Reyes, who tested positive for a drug of abuse and drew a suspension. The 20-year-old finished last season in Double-A Springfield, striking out 52 batters in 34.2 innings.