Cliff Lee Dealing with A Flexor Pronator Strain in His Left Elbow

The alarming news from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Update (10:55 PM EST): Cliff Lee has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, per Gelb.

Gelb notes that Cliff Lee had been pitching through the injury recently. It’s unclear if Lee’s next start against the Dodgers is in jeopardy. MRI results should give the Phillies the information they need to make that call.

It was noted here recently that Lee’s velocity was down a full MPH on his fastball and down in general on all of his off-speed pitches. Lee, 35, has only been on the disabled list once since the start of the 2011 season. He hasn’t suffered any elbow- or shoulder-related injuries in his career, according to Baseball Prospectus.

Obviously, a serious injury for Lee is not only a blow to the Phillies’ chances of competing this season, but it kills his trade value. Lee is owed $25 million for 2014, $25 million for 2015, and has a $12.5 million buyout with a $27.5 million club option for 2016. After that, Lee said he would likely retire. Trading Lee is the Phillies’ best chance to quickly bolster their farm system to regear to become a playoff-competitive team in the near future.

The news isn’t necessarily all doom, though. Info about the injury, via ESPN’s Stephania Bell, circa 2008:

The flexor-pronator muscles provide protection to the elbow joint by countering the torque produced during pitching, so lingering problems here can put the elbow at risk. Treatment begins with rest, while also addressing pain and swelling, followed by soft-tissue work and strengthening. Time lost will depend on the severity of the episode, but you can usually count on a couple of weeks at the minimum. If managed well, this can be a “one and done” type of scenario. As an example of just that, Mariners closer J.J. Putz developed a flexor-pronator strain during spring training but was available to pitch by the start of the regular season and held up well through the remainder of 2007.Stephania Bell, ESPN

In retrospect, however, using Putz as an example of good health looks funny.

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  1. Brian

    May 20, 2014 07:14 PM

    If Lee is placed on the DL and misses at least 2-4 weeks, who takes the turn? Sigh… Roberto Hernandez?

    The candidates at AAA are not even that inspiring, so the likely fan’s rallying cry becomes… Jesse Biddle.

    • hk

      May 21, 2014 06:51 AM

      Now that the team essentially has no off days until the All Star Break, Roberto Hernandez is already slotted to take a regular turn. Who replaces Lee until he returns is a good question. They answer is probably one of the AAA choices (Manship, O’Sullivan, Buchanan or Smith). They recently converted Brad Lincoln to a starter at Lehigh Valley, but I doubt they’ve seen enough or feel he’s stretched out enough to bring him to the big leagues as a starter.

    • Tom

      May 21, 2014 07:50 AM

      No, biddle needs “more time”…maybe in 3 years. He hasn’t even gone through a trade deadline where we tell the media he’s “Untouchable”. We have to wait through at least a year of pompass “i know more about baseball than you” attitude from people pontificating about patience. Maybe even a condescending chuckle from Amaro himself when he’s asked the question of CSN. Oh, and don’t forget the sabermetric hidden stat that proves he needs more time…like his percentage of fastballs above 90 when the barometric pressure is slightly less than avg on odd days playing on natural grass.

      • MattWinks

        May 21, 2014 08:15 AM

        Here is your sabermetric stat that Biddle needs more time, BB/9 of 3.8 in AA right now (repeating the level). He could come up and be useful, but you are looking at a #5 starter who could end up being out of the game by the 4th inning.

  2. edwin

    May 20, 2014 09:05 PM

    Well that pretty much blows the trade value. I cannot think of anyone foolish enough, with the exception of Ruben, making a deal now. So let’s hope it is not too serious and is treated effectively and the rest of the rotation steps up and finds their inner Cy Young. Who knows the true measure is when one is starring down into the abyss.

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