Ryan Williamson was in the midst of a brilliant start against Clemson a few weeks back when he hurt his elbow. It looked bad, because all arm injuries do, but he stayed in that game for another batter, and he also made starts in each of the next two series***.
(***We can question the coaching staff's judgment about this, but that's another post for another day.)
I thought Williamson had dodged a major injury bullet, but he didn't. Williamson announced on Instagram Friday that he tore his UCL and will require Tommy John surgery. (thanks to Will Henderson for pointing this out to me)
This puts a significant dent in NC State's rotation from here on, but what really sucks is that this is happening less than two weeks from the MLB Draft. Williamson is draft-eligible this year for the first time, and while he'll be drafted despite the injury, the injury is probably going to cost him money. Andrew Brackman managed to get picked in the first round despite pending Tommy John surgery, but he was an exception to the rule. Williamson was never a first round talent.
(EDIT: I should note that Elliott Avent says Williamson can pitch with this injury, and that's true. This is what Avent said on Monday when asked if Williamson would pitch this weekend:
That is going to be Ryan Williamson's call. He does have a little bit of an injury. It is an injury that he can pitch with but it is an injury that is going to have to be fixed. That is going to be his and his parents' call.
It seems unlikely that if he were willing to pitch that he could go deep into a game, but I suppose we'll see.)
As for what this means for NC State in the near term ... that's hard to figure. Suddenly Brian Brown is an outpost without support --if Williamson can't go or can't pitch much--and he's been struggling lately anyway. The Wolfpack has no choice but to start Cory Wilder in one of the first two games of the regional and hope he can give the team results similar to those he delivered against Florida State in the ACC tournament. Brown has to be fantastic the rest of the way.
The Pack is in an advantageous position as a regional host, but I don't think a State team has been in this spot with a pitching staff this depleted. Fortunately, the lineup is good. And it had better be good next weekend.