PHILADELPHIA - Not even two starts into his Phillies career, it appears right-hander Clay Buchholz's season is over.
An MRI Wednesday afternoon revealed a partial tear of the right flexor pronator mass. He will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Monday. A course of treatment will then be determined.
However, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Buchholz avoids being sidelined for months. When he sustained a similar injury, a right forearm strain, in July 2015 with the Red Sox, Buchholz missed the final three months of that season.
Buchholz exited Tuesday's start against the New York Mets in the middle of an at-bat during the third inning. Over his two starts, Buchholz posted a 12.27 ERA, allowing 10 runs on 16 hits in 7⅓ innings. He's earning $13.5 million this year and will become a free agent after the season.
Although Buchholz said Tuesday was the first time he'd felt pain in his arm, the injury would help explain the noticeable dip in velocity. All of his pitches averaged approximately 2 mph slower than last season with the Red Sox. Through two starts, Buchholz's fastball averaged only 90.9 mph – dropping from 92.1 mph in 2016 – while his two-seamer sat at 90.1 mph – down from 92 mph.
This is the second consecutive season the Phillies lost a veteran starting pitcher they acquired in an offseason trade because of an April injury. Right-hander Charlie Morton was lost for the 2016 season due to a torn hamstring in his fourth start.
Buchholz's injury is also reminiscent of former Phillie Cliff Lee's 2014 injury woes and his attempted return during spring training in 2015.
In that situation, a flexor pronator strain put Lee on the disabled list twice in 2014 and caused him to miss most of the season. He had a reoccurrence in spring training and declined to have surgery that would have sidelined him 6 to 8 months. The injury ended the then-36 year old's career.
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