The news wasn’t good out of New York this afternoon. Joel Zumaya, who injured his hand warming up Saturday night, has a ruptured tendon in the middle finger on his throwing hand. It will require surgery which Zumaya will have performed by Dr. Charles Monroe on Thursday. Zumaya is expected to miss 12 weeks.
Getting by for a couple weeks is a lot different than having to cope for half of a season. Rodney is certainly capable of picking up a good deal of the slack, but who picks up Rodney’s slack? With the combination of set-up men Jim Leyland could either double up their innings on a given night, or have them each pitch one inning shortening the game to six innings. That luxury is gone now.
Jose Mesa will be called on, as will the lefty duo of Wil Ledezma and Bobby Seay who will likely see more LOOGY situations.
I’d expect that the Tigers will not rely on Aquilino Lopez and will either a)reach down to the minors and select one of their starting pitchers (like Virgil Vasquez or Zach Miner) or look to acquire another arm.
The other possible side effect of this is that Jim Leyland stays with his starters deeper into games. The additional workload on each starter would probably amount to no more than 5-6 innings total. As long as it doesn’t invoke pitch counts of 120+ regularly that wouldn’t be so bad.
The longer term ramifications aren’t as pleasant to think about. The middle finger is the last part of the pitcher’s body to have contact with the baseball. Any lack of feel or confidence could be devastating. This isn’t a shoulder which exists to generate a ton of torque, this is the delicate part. I’m neither a doctor nor a pitcher, but I fear that coming back from this particular injury will be much more difficult than just having the doctor go in and fix it up.