5:00pm: Buchholz has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the flexor pronator mass in his pitching arm, per a club announcement. He is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion.
As things stand, it’s not clear what treatment will be undertaken for the injury. That’ll be sorted out after the trip to Dr. Andrews’s office — which is never where a pitcher hopes to find himself.
Clearly, though, Buchholz is headed for a layoff of some duration. Surgery isn’t always required in cases of strains (slight tears) or partial tears, but in such cases a fairly lengthy rest-and-rehab protocol is typically followed.
Many pitchers have missed time but returned to health without going under the knife. Buchholz’s situation will obviously be unique to himself, but here are a few data points: Stephen Strasburg and Tyler Skaggs both mulled returns late in 2016 following September injuries; though they didn’t get back on the hill last year, neither required surgery. There are more serious examples, too. The injury more or less ended the career of Cliff Lee, though that was perhaps a more significant tear and the veteran elected not to undergo surgery to repair it. Homer Bailey ultimately required surgery for his tear. Meanwhile, Andrew Miller required only a missed about a month in 2015 with what was classified as a pronator strain.
7:19am: Phillies right-hander Clay Buchholz has a flexor tendon strain and will receive an MRI on Wednesday to assess the severity of the issue, per Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Buchholz will end up on the disabled list as a result of the injury, Salisbury adds.
There’s no way to discern exactly how long Buchholz will be out until doctors evaluate his MRI results, but flexor tendon issues typically aren’t a minor malady. Buchholz was rocked by the Mets on Tuesday, surrendering six runs on eight hits and a walk with two strikeouts in just 2 1/3 innings — a dismal effort that inflated his ERA to an unsightly 12.27 on the young season.
Buchholz becomes the second Phillies starter to exit a game early in the past few days, though his injury sounds considerably more serious than the forearm cramp that abbreviated Jeremy Hellickson’s most recent start. With Buchholz almost certainly DL-bound, the Phillies will have to tap into their Triple-A reserve sooner than they’d have hoped. However, the Phils have no shortage of intriguing arms from which to choose on the 40-man roster, thanks largely to the plethora of trades they’ve completed over the past two and a half years while rebuilding. Right-handers Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively and Mark Appel have all been acquired from other organizations and are all in the rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
There may be a pair of arms added to the Phillies’ roster tomorrow, in fact, as the team announced after tonight’s 14-4 bludgeoning at the hands of the Mets that southpaw Adam Morgan has been optioned to Lehigh Valley. His demotion clears a spot to not add a fresh arm to a depleted relief corps, in addition to the potential replacement for Buchholz.