When elbow discomfort forces a pitcher out of a game the range of outcomes is vast, but almost every possible prognosis is grim.
There’s no good way to hurt your elbow when propelling baseballs with your arm is your chosen career. That’s why you could forgive Toronto Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ for having his mind go to a dark place when he left Sunday’s start after his most lucrative joint tightened up on him.
“I hadn’t felt that in a lot of years, so it was concerning to me for sure and it wasn’t getting any better,” he said prior to Tuesday’s matchup with the Boston Red Sox. “It was getting worse as that fifth inning progressed there.”
Luckily for the veteran left-hander – and the Blue Jays – it appears that his injury isn’t too serious. While he’s headed to the 10-day disabled list with elbow soreness, things could have been a lot worse.
“They did an MRI and it actually looked pretty good,” said manager John Gibbons. “There was some inflammation in there. We figure we put him on the 10-day DL get him through that and let it calm down. Who knows, he might be ready on that 11th day or soon after, that’s the feeling right now anyway.”
Happ also sees this development as a positive one, despite the stint on the shelf.
“I thinking looking long-term it’s actually really good news compared to what it could have been and maybe what I thought it was leaning toward,” he said. “It’s good news. I don’t want to go on the DL, but hopefully there’s potential for this just to be a one time through the rotation type and [I can] get right back after the 10 days.”
The Blue Jays could certainly use a favourable turn of fortune. As it stands, the team can ill afford for Happ to miss many starts considering the rather unimpressive alternatives. Instead, the Blue Jays will simply demand a spot start from one of their Triple-A pitchers as opposed to the kind of extended stretch that could get ugly.
While Happ is off to a bumpy start from a traditional statistical standpoint with an 0-3 record and 4.50 ERA, his underlying peripherals are outstanding – and he’s certainly a part of the solution rather than the problem for Toronto. The 34-year-old has struck out 20 batters in 16 innings and has yet to issue a walk.
The Blue Jays have already dug themselves a significant hole with their 2-10 start – the last thing they could afford was to lose Happ to a significant injury. Having him hit the 10-day DL isn’t exactly ideal, but in the midst of a 2-10 start that constitutes good news these days.