The Latest on MLB’s Injured Aces

Another year. Another injury mess. Many of the league’s top pitchers remain on the IL, but there’s some good news coming. Who’s back, and who is facing more time on the shelf? We’ve got the inside scoop!

Max Scherzer

The Injury: grade 2 left oblique strain

Expected Return: early July

What to Expect: Scherzer was injured on May 18, so he is about 6 weeks removed from the injury. He is making his second rehab start today and is hoping to return to the Mets rotation the first week in July. This is a bit rushed due to the complexity of oblique strains for a pitcher. The rotation movement involved in delivering a pitch puts a lot of stress on those muscles, so there’s a High Risk of re-injury. We often see aggravations in the first few starts back. That’s especially likely for someone like Scherzer, who seems to have rushed his return.

Jacob DeGrom

The Injury: right scapula stress reaction

Expected Return: late July, early August

What to Expect: deGrom’s arm has been a mess over the last few years, and 2022 started off no different. He has yet to pitch this season due to a fractured scapula. This is related to his recent injuries – right lat inflammation, right flexor tendinitis, shoulder soreness and a partial UCL tear. When deGrom returns I am cautiously optimistic that his scapula will be fully healed, but I’m less optimistic about his ability to perform at a high level and stay healthy. He didn’t undergo surgery to address the UCL tear, so there’s a significant risk that his elbow problems will re-appear. That, or he could deal with another compensatory injury in an attempt to protect the damaged UCL. I don’t care what the Mets tried to say last year, I believe deGrom did have a partial tear, and that’s concerning for his career.

Jack Flaherty

The Injury: right shoulder strain

Expected Return: 2023

What to Expect: Flaherty is back on the IL, and this time it could end his season. He didn’t make his season debut until mid-June due to bursitis (aka inflammation) in his throwing shoulder. In just his second start of the season he was injured again, this time with “shoulder tightness.” In reality this is something more significant than just some tightness. Flaherty is known to have a SLAP labrum tear in his throwing shoulder that was never addressed with surgery. He has insisted that it isn’t related to his current shoulder problems, but these types of tears don’t heal on their own. That puts other parts of his shoulder at risk of damage. On top of that Flaherty missed time with an oblique strain last season. When he returned he adjusted his mechanics, putting more of a strain on his shoulder. If he can’t figure out his mechanics, he is never going to be able to stay healthy. The Cardinals needs to shut him down and look ahead to 2023.

Mike Soroka

The Injury: ruptured Achilles (twice!)

Expected Return: August

What to Expect: Mike Soroka ruptured his Achilles tendon during the 2020 season, then he underwent a follow-up procedure almost a year later because his body was rejecting the sutures. Not long after that Soroka ruptured his Achilles tendon again. This isn’t too common, especially for a pitcher. Soroka has been slowly working his way back and has been throwing from the mound. The Braves are hoping to have him back sometime after the All Star break.

Walker Buehler

The Injury: right flexor strain + surgery to remove bone spur from elbow

Expected Return: September

What to Expect: Buehler is shut down from throwing due to a few injuries. He initially suffered a right flexor strain, then decided to undergo surgery to address a bone spur in his elbow that had been there fro a few years. He already wasn’t going to be allowed to throw for awhile, so he went ahead and had surgery as it wouldn’t really change his recovery time. The Dodgers are expecting him to be sidelined for 10-12 weeks. Realistically he will be out on the longer end of this projected timeline. He could be back late in the Dodgers season and available for the playoffs, but I wouldn’t expect to see the same pitcher if and when he is back. 2023 is much more promising.

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