Diamondbacks right-hander Drey Jameson has been on the injured list since early July due to elbow problems, and unfortunately the 26-year-old is now facing the worst case scenario. Manager Torey Lovullo told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic) that Jameson will undergo a Tommy John surgery, which will almost certainly keep the pitcher out of action until Opening Day 2025.
The outcome isn’t unexpected, as Jameson was almost immediately shifted to the 60-day injured list soon after his initial 15-day IL placement, and Lovullo indicated in July that the righty’s UCL had suffered some type of damage. Jameson had been trying to work through the injury without surgery and had been on a throwing program, though that program was paused earlier this week.
Jameson now faces a much more extensive rehab process and an unfortunate stoppage in his young career. Selected 34th overall by the D’Backs in the 2019 draft, Jameson was still able to blaze a quick path to the majors even despite losing 2020 as a development year because of the pandemic. He made his Major League debut with four starts and a 1.48 ERA over 24 1/3 innings in 2022, and then battled for a starter’s job in Spring Training before opening this season in Arizona’s bullpen.
Some tough early results got him sent to Triple-A for much of May, after Jameson had been moved into the rotation to fill in for the injured Zach Davies. Jameson returned to the big league bullpen at the end of May and looked pretty sharp before his elbow injury, at least in terms of bottom-line results. Jameson had a 3.32 ERA over 40 2/3 total innings this season, with a 4.49 SIERA reflecting his below-average strikeout and walk rates, though he at least limited damage with a 45.8% grounder rate and a hefty 87% strand rate.
The TJ surgery could well factor into any future decision over Jameson’s role as a starter or reliever, though that determination will certainly wait until after he is healthy and ready to pitch. Rebuilding arm strength for a relief role isn’t quite as extensive as rehabbing to take on a starter’s workload, so there is a slim chance Jameson might be able to make it back at the very end of the 2024 regular season, but the much likelier scenario is that he’ll miss all of next season recovering.
Even if Jameson might have been a depth starter for 2024, his injury removes another arm from the Diamondbacks’ depth chart heading into the offseason. The Snakes have hung in the wild card race despite not getting much from their rotation beyond Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, leaving pitching as a question to be more fully addressed over the winter. Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson, and Brandon Pfaadt will all be in the running to compete for rotation jobs, but Arizona will surely look to acquire at least one veteran arm. Davies could be retained on a $5.5MM mutual option, though that doesn’t seem likely to be exercised given Davies’ struggles this year.