CLEVELAND — The Detroit Tigers already knew left-hander Tarik Skubal would not pitch for the remainder of the 2022 season, but Wednesday’s events off the field delivered another massive blow to the organization’s rebuild.
Skubal underwent flexor tendon surgery Wednesday. The timetable for his return is unclear, but the typical recovery time is nine months, placing his return at some point in the 2023 season.
The 25-year-old, who felt pain in his left elbow upon resuming his throwing program, visited specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Monday. ElAttrache is the head team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams.
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Skubal finished 2022 with a 3.52 ERA, 32 walks and 117 strikeouts over 117⅔ innings in 21 starts. He has pitched 60 games (57 starts) — and 299 innings — across his three-year MLB career, posting a 4.15 ERA.
He appeared in his final game Aug. 1 against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. He removed himself from the outing after five innings and 77 pitches due to left arm fatigue. In the fifth inning, Skubal experienced a noticeable decrease in velocity.
Still, he felt confident he would make his next scheduled start.
Instead, the Tigers placed Skubal on the 15-day injured list Aug. 3, retroactive to Aug. 2. He was expected to return to the starting rotation in September with hopes of a strong finish. The Tigers then transferred him to the 60-day injured list Aug. 12, officially ending his 2022 season.
Skubal underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 at Seattle University. He missed the entire 2017 season, returned for the 2018 campaign and was selected by the Tigers in the ninth round of the 2018 draft (with the No. 255 overall pick).
Skubal’s most recent surgery appears similar to that of a former teammate, Matthew Boyd.
The left-hander underwent flexor tendon surgery in late September, ending his 2021 season. At the time, he expected to return by June 2022. The Tigers non-tendered him in the offseason, and he signed with the San Francisco Giants. (The Giants traded him to his hometown Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline earlier this month.)
Boyd has yet to return to the majors, although he is on a rehab assignment in the Mariners’ organization. His recovery from September’s surgery suffered a setback in early June when he felt discomfort in his elbow after throwing live batting practice to Giants hitters. Boyd struck out two with Triple-A Tacoma in a scoreless inning Monday and appears on track for a return in September, though likely in a relief role.
The Tigers have used 16 starting pitchers this season due to injuries, although they’ll be getting one back this weekend: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will start Sunday, against the Los Angeles Angels, for the first time since May 18.
This story will be updated.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Tarik Skubal has flexor tendon surgery