Skubal undergoes flexor tendon surgery

Detroit Tigers

CLEVELAND — The injury bug that has decimated the Tigers’ pitching staff has now struck the most important arm in their present and future. Left-hander Tarik Skubal, who rose from ninth-round Draft pick to front-line starter amidst a breakout season, underwent successful surgery on the flexor tendon in his left elbow.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure Wednesday at his practice in Los Angeles. No timetable has been announced for Skubal’s return, but the typical recovery period is between six and nine months.

If the procedure sounds familiar, it’s the same one that former Tiger Matthew Boyd underwent in September, though his was performed by a different surgeon. Boyd, who was non-tendered by the Tigers last offseason, is currently on a rehab assignment in the Mariners’ organization and aiming for a potential late-season stint with Seattle. He suffered a setback earlier this summer. Still, it’s generally a quicker timetable to return than Tommy John surgery, which involves a replacement of the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow.

Skubal’s procedure was initially exploratory before the root of the issue was found.

Skubal underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 while pitching at Seattle University. His recovery was one reason the Tigers were able to draft him in the ninth round in 2018, pairing him with Mize for a one-two punch of top pitching prospects.

Add in Matt Manning and Faedo, and the Tigers focused their rebuild on starting pitching, hoping to assemble a stingy rotation and have a surplus of arms available to trade for hitting help. Injuries, including a shoulder issue that kept Manning out for most of this season, have scuttled those plans and potentially contributed to Al Avila’s dismissal as general manager on Aug. 10.

With Skubal potentially out of Detroit’s plans for the start of 2023, the Tigers will head into the offseason with a potential rotation of Eduardo Rodriguez — who’s expected back from the restricted list on Sunday — Manning, Turnbull and Beau Brieske, who rose from 27th-round Draft pick in 2019 to a reliable starter this season but is likely to miss the rest of this season with right biceps tendinitis.

Faedo should factor in whenever he returns from hip surgery. So should Wentz, who’s expected to get another audition in Detroit’s rotation down the stretch after a couple of spot starts early this season, and Garrett Hill, who tossed a strong outing against the Guardians on Tuesday. Tigers prospects Wilmer Flores (No. 3 per MLB Pipeline) and Reese Olson (No. 9) could serve as insurance.

Whether that’s enough to help Detroit return to competitiveness will be a decision for Hinch and the next general manager.

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