Before today’s game at Chase Field, manager Torey Lovullo provided us with an update on Taijuan Walker. As you’ll recall, he was forced to leave his last start, in Los Angeles over the weekend, after experiencing the dreaded “forearm tightness” - a symptom often reported by those who later end up needing Tommy John surgery. While Walker played it down at the time, the team sent him for further diagnosis, and the initial word is not encouraging. The MRI showed an “injury” to Walker’s UCL, though it’s worth noting Lovullo did not say there was a tear, and Taijuan is currently getting a second opinion in New York.
Fingers crossed, that may be encouraging, as far as avoiding Tommy John (and its 12-18 month rehabilitation) goes. As Zack Buchanan noted, “I guess it’s reasonable to surmise that if Walker had a full tear of the UCL, he wouldn’t need a second opinion.” And speaking on Arizona Sports earlier, Lovullo said that the velocity drop Walker showed was not typical of such a diagnosis. “What I was told is that the velocity isn’t the main feature when somebody gets hurt and there’s a lot of damage done to the elbow — it’s the aim and the touch and the feel is to what mostly goes in the wrong direction.”
We’ll see what that second opinion reveals. In the meantime, the team has made no public decision as to who will replace Walker in the rotation. Braden Shipley and Matt Koch would appear to remain the most obvious candidates.