SUNDAY: Diamondbacks right-hander Luke Weaver left today’s start with what the team later described as right forearm tightness. As MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert notes, TV replays indicated that Weaver was opening and closing his right hand after allowing a Buster Posey single to begin the sixth inning. Weaver left the game after a visit from the team trainer. Manager Torey Lovullo was spare with further details, telling Gilbert and other reporters after the game that the team was still “gathering information” about the problem.
While it’s still too early to assess the nature of Weaver’s situation, any forearm problem is obviously of major concern given the specter of Tommy John surgery hanging over such injuries. Weaver has never faced any notable arm injuries in the past, aside from a fluky fracture of his non-throwing wrist as a minor leaguer in 2016.
Weaver was in the midst of another strong outing today, continuing what has been an impressive first season for the 25-year-old with the D’Backs. Weaver was arguably the key figure of the trade package (along with Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young, and a Competitive Balance Round draft pick) sent by the Cardinals to Arizona in the offseason for slugger Paul Goldschmidt, as Weaver is a former top-50 prospect controlled through the 2023 season who had already shown some promise at the big league level. Through 62 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks this season, Weaver has delivered on that promise with a 3.03 ERA, and 9.82 K/9 against a 2.02 BB/9.
Losing Weaver for any significant amount of time would be a major blow to a D’Backs team that was keeping pace in the playoff hunt, just a game behind the Braves for the final NL wild card slot and 1.5 games behind Milwaukee for the top wild card slot. The strong efforts of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and Weaver atop Arizona’s rotation has helped cover up a much shakier performance from the last two starting spots, as Merrill Kelly has been inconsistent and the Zack Godley lost his job altogether after some early-season struggles. Rookie Taylor Clarke has pitched decently well as the fifth starter, and prospect Jon Duplantier could yet get a look in the rotation, though the Diamondbacks’ hopes for a midseason return from Tommy John patient Taijuan Walker were recently dealt a blow with the news that Walker had suffered a sprained shoulder capsule.
Arizona GM Mike Hazen recently said that the team was looking for starting pitching reinforcements, and that search will only intensify if Weaver is out of action. Given how the D’Backs have been trying to walk the line between staying competitive while also saying goodbye to some big names (i.e. Goldschmidt, and departed free agents Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock), a splashy trade for a high-end starter didn’t seem too likely. The parameters of a starting pitching acquisition could narrow even further if Weaver does need TJ surgery in a worst-case scenario, as losing Weaver for the season could also change the Diamondbacks’ perspective about buying at the trade deadline. With the Dodgers already out to a healthy lead in the NL West, the D’Backs surely aren’t going to sell the farm just for the coin-flip opportunity of the one-game wild card playoff.