Tarik Skubal’s surgery is a big loss that could have been worse

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Detroit Tigers, Tarik Skubal

The Detroit Tigers made the tough announcement today that the team’s de facto ace this summer, Tarik Skubal, underwent flexor tendon surgery after his appointments in Los Angeles. The team announced that he was going to Los Angeles to seek a second opinion on his elbow, which took place on Monday.

There was some worry and concern from the Detroit Tigers organization about Tarik Skubal possibly needing to undergo Tommy John surgery, which was the worst-case scenario. It’s still not the best-case scenario, but it seemed like a longshot that Skubal would emerge from the specialist visit with nothing to report except arm fatigue.

He will undergo the same surgery that Matthew Boyd underwent in September of 2021, aiming for a mid-summer return. It provides a glimmer of hope that he could be back next summer for the Tigers, unlike a Tommy John surgery timeline that would keep him off the mound for a year and then some. All of this is according to the tweet above from Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic. It provides us with some sort of satisfaction that it might not be all bad.

It’s still not good news, but it is not the worst-case scenario. It’s a one-step forward and two-step back situation. The initial no Tommy John thought is great, but knowing the Tigers are without him and Mize as well is going to be a setback for the team’s rotation. Though as the 2022 season has gone on, the team has gotten some quality starts out of unlikely names.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Tarik Skubal undergoes flexor tendon surgery.

Tarik Skubal, 25, had been the team’s acting ace in the absence of Mize from the rotation. The southpaw made 21 starts for the Tigers in 2022, where he managed a 3.52 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 117.2 innings pitched. He left his last start early, right before the trade deadline, which produced enough drama in its own right.

Now, after missing time the second opinion news sparked even more drama about him needing Tommy John or what might happen to the team’s young arm. But the report itself was better than Tommy John surgery but is still worrisome. While the narrative around Tommy John surgery has changed, kids at 18 undergo the procedure and come out on the other side throwing harder than they did before.

It’s not the case for everyone. I’m not saying having Tommy John makes you better, but for some guys, the rehab process changes some of their mechanics and the way they approach their delivery, prep work, arm care, and so many other aspects; it makes them better on the other side.

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But, flexor tendon surgery could still be a problematic situation. After this, it will take time to get him to rehab the injury, which leaves him working back up to 100%, which he may not be able to do again. The flexor tendon in your arm allows the hand to make a fist or bend your elbow.

For a pitcher trying to work through his delivery, close his hand, grip the ball, put force on it, and create spin, this will be a significant factor. Even if Skubal’s back on the mound mid-summer 2023, he may not be the same pitcher the Tigers knew him as pre-injury.

That’s the worse news. At the end of the day, the Tigers will be able to trot out someone else in his spot in the rotation to start the first half of the 2023 season, they’re 15 starters deep in 2022, and they’ll get an arm. The issue comes with Skubal’s return and if he can get back on the mound and be a dominant middle-of-the-rotation arm like he showed he could be this summer.

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While it’s a bit of a victory to avoid Tommy John surgery, Skubal undergoing flexor tendon surgery is still a tough blow for the Detroit Tigers.

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Posted by Tyler Kotila
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Miami (OH) University Alum Love & Honor Now spend time watching baseball, sharing my opinion on Detroit Sports, and scouting baseball down in Florida.