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Tarik Skubal shut down for 2022 season left arm injury

CHICAGO — The Tigers are all too familiar with injuries to their young pitchers. Unfortunately, that news got worse for Detroit on Friday.

Although there was nothing alarming with Tarik Skubal’s imaging done last week on his left arm, there is now some concern with his injury. The 25-year-old was transferred to the 60-day injured list before the Tigers’ 2-0 loss against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The move, later confirmed by manager AJ Hinch, affirms that Skubal’s 2022 season is over. He was 7-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 21 starts this season.

“We’re concerned about Tarik,” Hinch said. “He’s not going to pitch for the rest of the season, that much we know, which is why we put him on the 60-day [injured list]. The inflammation, the pain that he felt continued when he started throwing again.”

Skubal was originally placed on the 15-day IL when he left his start on Aug. 1 against the Twins early with left arm fatigue. The left-hander pulled himself from the game in the top of the sixth inning after throwing five scoreless innings.

“Pitchers pride themselves from staying on the field and not ever coming off the field,” Hinch said. “But when he told me in the last start to come out, that’s obviously concerning because that rarely, if ever, happens. It’s probably a peek into exactly what he was feeling.”

But more important than missing the rest of the season is where Skubal has experienced discomfort. Pain in his elbow has started to arise, which is never a promising sign. With elbow issues, Tommy John surgery is often brought up. Skubal went through that surgery once already in 2016, in his sophomore year at Seattle University, to repair a torn UCL.

“That obviously brings significant concern for us, so we’ll wait for the doctor’s word,” Hinch said. “We’ve had a couple of doctors, our team doctors [and] another doctor look at it.”

Skubal is not currently with the team and is in Los Angeles to get another opinion on his arm. He will meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday to determine the next steps of his recovery and whether he will need surgery.

“[Skubal’s] very resolute about finding a solution to make him better,” Hinch said. “His attitude’s been great about it, and we’ll get him evaluated and have a more detailed response when we get some more feedback.”

The severity of Skubal’s injury won’t be known until at least Monday. But it’s another blow to a team that has suffered plenty of injuries to its young pitchers this season.

Matt Manning has made just four starts after battling a shoulder injury for most of the year. 2017 first-round pick Alex Faedo will miss the rest of the season with hip surgery. Rookie Beau Brieske was just transferred to the 60-day injured list with biceps tendinitis.

Perhaps the biggest injury letdown has been Casey Mize. The Tigers selected Mize first overall in the 2018 MLB Draft, but he made just two starts this season and underwent Tommy John surgery on June 15.

“Obviously, we’ve never had the full team that we expected to have from the very beginning,” Hinch said. “… Getting hurt, and it’s continued on throughout the roster. Players understand that it’s the next-man-up mentality, but they also understand that there’s some significant talent that’s missing time that we expected to be big parts of our team. We’ve seen guys get opportunities that maybe didn’t expect to be here because of those injuries.”

Daniel Norris is one of those players that has gotten the opportunity to revive his career. The Tigers signed him to a Minor League contract last month, and he made his 2022 Tigers debut on Friday.

Norris went 4 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks with one strikeout in his return to the Tigers. He had spent parts of seven seasons in Detroit before being traded to Milwaukee in July 2021.

“I was definitely battling some emotion coming back,” Norris said. “I felt super lucky and grateful to even have this opportunity and start. There were opportunities elsewhere, but the opportunity to start was very attractive.”

Norris will look to help the Tigers’ rotation this year. But the news of Skubal’s recent injury update is a big blow for Detroit, adding yet another player to the team’s long list of injured young pitchers.

“Obviously, we’ve had more than our fair share of issues, and this is yet another one,” Hinch said.