When Brandon McCarthy left last night’s game with what was termed “right elbow tightness,” Twitter exploded with fury and jokes about how the Dodgers should have known better than to give a four-year deal to a pitcher with such a long injury history. I didn’t really agree with most of that, because he did pitch 200 innings last year and had never had any sort of major elbow issue; it’s not like this was a recurrence of the same old thing. To ask as though he’s somehow more predisposed to an elbow injury than any other pitcher — the only way to be certain you can avoid them is to not pitch — is probably not supported by fact.
Still, if you know me at all, this kind of thing just kills me:
McCarthy said elbow bothered him over last week. Said he should have left game in 2nd inning.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 26, 2015
Which is easy to see when you look at his velocity during the game…
… and so now, you hope more than anything, that he didn’t turn something minor into something major by pitching through pain.
It’s not hard to understand why athletes do this kind of thing, especially ones new to a team trying to live up to a big contract, but it’s still frustrating. I’m not in McCarthy’s head and I won’t speak for him, but you imagine that he didn’t want to subject a bullpen that’s already going to have to be extremely available to back up Scott Baker today to another long night. It’s always a fine line, because you respect an athlete who wants to give his all for the team; you just hope that bravery doesn’t end up coming at a huge price.
McCarthy claims that he’ll get an MRI but that “tests on his ligament came back clean,” and I’ll admit I have no idea what kind of non-MRI tests could have been done that quickly to confirm that. I liked the signing over the winter, so I’m not going to pretend now that I didn’t. But with McCarthy admitting he doesn’t know if he can make his next start, and with Hyun-jin Ryu still a few weeks off yet, and with Brett Anderson having a hard time missing bats in the early going, the already-questionable Dodger rotation depth is about to get a big test. No one trades good starting pitching in April, so we may finally get to see Zach Lee and Joe Wieland. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing — both are intriguing — but it’s a lot sooner than we may have hoped.