Tarik Skubal facing uncertain 2023 after elbow surgery

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In another blow to the Tigers' rebuild, Tarik Skubal underwent elbow surgery Wednesday and will likely miss at least part of next season.

The surgery, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles, repaired the flexor tendon in Skubal's left elbow and comes with a typical recovery time of six to nine months.

The 25-year-old was in the midst of a breakout season with a 3.52 ERA and a strikeout per inning in 21 starts. He had emerged as the ace of a rotation riddled by injuries until succumbing to inflammation in his elbow earlier this month.

The Tigers had already shut Skubal down for the season. Now his focus shifts to rehabbing for next season. The good news is that he avoided Tommy John surgery and a much longer recovery, but A.J. Hinch admitted Wednesday that "it’s hard to be optimistic when you have one of your best players undergo a surgical procedure."

"The positive side of it is we have resolution and there’s no longer lingering curiosity as to what was causing the issue," Hinch told reporters in Cleveland before the Tigers' loss to the Indians. "I like that there wasn’t a singular event and all of a sudden it was this massive tear of some sort. I don’t know what kind of repair it was. I can’t even begin to describe it. But when a respected doctor’s office says 'successful surgery and expected to make a perfect recovery,' that’s good enough for me."

Every member of the Tigers' projected Opening Day rotation has spent significant time on the injured list this season, including former first overall pick Casey Mize who might not pitch again until 2024 due to Tommy John.

In a perfect world, the club's Opening Day rotation next season would have been headlined by Mize, Skubal and Eduardo Rodriguez. Now it will likely feature Rodriguez, Matt Manning and Spencer Turnbull, the latter of whom is recovering from Tommy John himself.

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