Diamondbacks right-hander Clay Buchholz is done for the year, according to postgame comments made by club manager Torey Lovullo on Friday. Buchholz experienced a bout of right elbow stiffness prior to a scheduled start on Thursday and was officially diagnosed with a flexor strain after undergoing an MRI the next day. An exact timeline for the right-hander’s return to the rotation was not outlined by the skipper, though it’s conceivable that he could start throwing again by spring training if all goes well during his recovery over the offseason.
Complicating matters, naturally, is Buchholz’s history of injuries, particularly the torn flexor tendon that cost him all but two games of the 2017 season. While he may not require surgery to fix his current injury, the Diamondbacks clearly have a good reason to play it safe with one of their most consistent starters. Until Thursday’s incident, the 33-year-old had been closing in on some career-best numbers after turning in a 7-2 record in 16 starts with a solid 2.01 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, 7.4 SO/9, and 2.0 fWAR through 98 1/3 innings.
Buchholz will leave behind a rotation that currently ranks seventh-best in the majors with a collective 3.77 ERA and 14.6 fWAR in 2018. Per MLB.com’s Alyson Footer, the club is expected to utilize one of two right-handed options in Buchholz’s absence: rookie Matt Koch, who covered for the righty on Thursday and currently owns a 4.48 ERA and 1.264 WHIP in 78 1/3 innings, or reliever Matt Andriese, who was brought over from the Rays prior to the July trade deadline and struggled to a 7.31 ERA and 1.688 WHIP in his first 16 frames with the club.