This weekend saw a rash of MLB injury news that involved some prominent players who will be missing significant time.
The Detroit Tigers were a popular pick to be the bad team that made significant strides in 2022. That has not come to pass — Detroit is 24-35 on the season, and their -74 run differential is the third worst in the American League.
A bad year got worse on Friday with the news that righthanded pitcher Casey Mize, the #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, would need Tommy John surgery. Mize, who just turned 25, had a nice year for the Tigers in 2021, putting up a 3.3 bWAR over 150 innings in 30 starts, and the Tigers were hoping he would take another step forward in 2022. Instead, he made just two starts, and now will be out until the second half of 2023.
Meanwhile, it was also announced on Friday that Royce Lewis, who went #1 overall the year before Mize, would be undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Lewis, who missed all of the 2021 season due to that same injury, had just been called back up to the majors by the Minnesota Twins. Normally a shortstop, Lewis was playing center field in his first game back in the majors, and suffered the injury while colliding with the center field wall making a catch. Lewis is now looking at being out until June, 2023.
Lewis just turned 23 a few days ago, so he is still quite young, but he has missed significant development time. Between the COVID-19 pandemic season and the two ACL surgeries, Lewis will have logged fewer than 200 plate appearances from the end of the 2019 season through whenever he returns in 2023.
Meanwhile, also on Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced that reliever Andrew Kittredge would undergo Tommy John surgery. Kittredge had a great 2021 sason for the Rays, putting up a 1.88 ERA in 71 innings over 57 games and being named to the All Star team, and was a key cog in the Rays’ bullpen in 2022, including leading the team in saves (if you care about that stat).
Finally, Los Angeles Dodgers starter Walker Buehler has been shut down for six to eight weeks after being diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon in his elbow. Even after the shutdown period, Buehler will need to ramp back up with his throwing program before being ready to pitch in games, so Buehler is likely out until at least September.
Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery right after he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, so I guess there is some relief this is diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain rather than a UCL injury. As Jay Jaffe notes, Buehler carried a heavy workload for the Dodgers in 2021, wearing down late in the season, despite excellent overall season numbers. Buehler has been mortal in 2022, putting up a 4.02 ERA in 65 innings over 12 starts, including a 6.67 ERA in his last six outings.