Phillies righty Mark Leiter has been diagnosed with a mild flexor strain, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (via Twitter). He will be shut down for two to three weeks before attempting to ramp back up.
That’s certainly disappointing news, though far from the worst-case scenario. Leiter underwent an MRI after reporting forearm tightness. With fellow starter Jerad Eickhoff also suffering an injury late in camp, the Phillies organization was surely holding its collective breath.
Leiter says he anticipates missing about a month of the season. Of course, the specific timeline will depend not only on how he responds to the injury, but also how long it takes him to build back up to full strength and what kind of precautions the club takes.
The pair of injuries leaves the Phillies’ rotation a bit under-staffed, though there are certainly options on hand. Roster Resource now predicts that Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively will occupy the last two spots in the starting staff to begin the season. Drew Hutchison, Jake Thompson, and Zach Eflin are the other starters with substantial MLB experience who could conceivably round out the unit or function as depth.
Of course, the loss of depth could also add some impetus to pursuit of an outside acquisition. It’s not really clear at this point, though, whether that’s a realistic consideration. The Phils have already spent some money on the pitching staff in the form of Jake Arrieta and a few relievers, while also adding Carlos Santana to their lineup.
If the club does turn to the open market, the top name is unquestionably Alex Cobb, though he would likely require a significant outlay. There are a few veteran hurlers still looking for work, too, including such notable names as John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Locke, and — if he’s still at all interested in playing — R.A. Dickey. It’s also possible the Phillies could keep an eye on the waiver wire and look at released non-roster invitees as camps draw to a close.