It was apparent, almost from the get-go this afternoon, that it was not going to be Daniel Hudson's day, as the very first Atlanta batter faced homered off him. Though he escaped that inning without further damage, the same could not be said for the second, where he faced seven Braves and allowed hits to five of them. Though there was no obvious pitch responsible, Hudson gestured towards the Diamondbacks dugout, seeking assistance. Kirk Gibson and assistant trainer Peter Mainville came out, but even before they got to the mound, Hudson shook his head, with one lip-reader stating Daniel said, "My elbow's f*cking done."
Initially, it was reported as "tightness in his right forearm," but after the game, the prognosis became a good deal worse. ''I just couldn't get extended on the pitch without some pain in my elbow,'' said Hudson. And this is not, apparently, a new development:
Daniel Hudson says his elbow has been sore the last few starts. "It's been getting progressively worse," he said. MRI tomorrow.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) June 27, 2012
Well, crap.... After the jump, more on this, and the team's options for what looks likely to be a long-term replacement.
What's more than a little surprising, is that the team were, apparently, completely unaware of the situation, Gibson saying, ''We were unaware that his elbow was hurting and it's alarming." Hudson's take on it was that it was initially no big deal: ''With my arm action I figure it kind of comes with the territory.' he said. However, this would go quite some way to explaining Hudson's recent ineffectiveness, with a six ERA before his first trip to the DL in April, and no improvement - indeed, an ERA above seven - over the five starts, since his return, before today's outing was ended before he could get through two innings.
''I'm pretty concerned. It's your elbow,' said Hudson - and the ongoing nature makes me wonder if it was also part of the problem that occurred in April. To have it flair up again so soon is definitely not a good sign, even though there did not appear to be any particular injury or aggravation tonight, and Hudson said he didn't feel anything 'pop'. However, as Nick Piecoro notes, neither did Braves' pitcher Brandon Beachy, and he just had Tommy John surgery, ending his 2012 campaign. Whether that will prove necessary for Hudson, I have absolutely no idea, and I doubt anyone will until after tomorrow's MRI.
Part of me actually hopes this shows something physically wrong with the elbow. As with most illnesses, not knowing what the problem is, can in some ways be worse than having a definite diagnosis, on which you can then get treatment and work towards recovery. Looking at his numbers, there hasn't been much change on the speed of his fastball this year - at 92.8 mph, it's basically unchanged from his career average of 93.0. However, what is notable is that Hudson's slider - a pitch notorious for the stress it places on the elbow - has lost more than four mph. Perhaps a cautionary tale there for Wade Miley, and his new, harder slider?
With regard to a replacement... Well, you can pretty much see the article written over the weekend when Joe Saunders went on the DL, and just cross out any reference to Trevor Bauer. I do note that Patrick Corbin was scratched from his scheduled start for the Reno Aces, basically as soon as Hudson came off the mound. Gibson professed ignorance in this regard, but got to feel he was in on that decision. However, if Corbin was intended as a straight replacement for Hudson, yanking him from his start wouldn't make much sense: he could have pitched, keeping him on his regular rotation for Sunday's start in Milwaukee.
That's what makes me think the aim may be to bring Corbin up to act as long relief for the rest of the week, and allow Josh Collmenter to sit for a bit. Josh threw four innings and 85 pitches on Friday, and four more with another 65 pitches tonight, so he's probably in need of a nice break. Having stretched his arm out over these past two outings, Collmenter should be just about fully prepared to start and give a full outing on Sunday in Milwaukee - as noted previously, a team whom he has owned more or less totally every time he has faced them. That'd be my guess as to how things might shake down.