Each MLB team is blessed and cursed at different points in the season. This year, I think that the baseball gods were especially unkind at times.
Curse #1: Head, Shoulders, Elbows, and Forearms!
Did the gods suddenly remember that the 2022 seasons featured no serious pitcher injuries? If so, they decided to double down this season. They cursed two veteran lefty starters, two right-handed young starters, and one relief pitcher.
LHP Robbie Ray was the first to fall. After a fantastic Spring Training, he could not continue pitching in the season's second game. It was no joke that he went on the 15-day IL with a flexor strain on April 1. On April 9, RHP Andrếs Muñoz joined Ray on the IL. After pitching six-plus no-run innings against Toronto at Rogers Centre, RHP Easton McGee joined the others on April 30 with a right forearm strain.
On "May the Fourth be With You," RHP Penn Murfee joined the 15-day IL. LHP Marco Gonzales moved to the 15-day IL on June 3 with a forearm strain. Murfee was activated for a short three days and then went back on the list with elbow inflammation. Luckily, Muñoz returned and was back with the team on June 6. The Mariners eventually decided to move a few pitchers to the 60-day IL: Ray on June 12, Murfee on July 5, and Gonzales on July 26. On August 21, Emerson Hancock joined the 15-day IL with a right shoulder strain and on the next day was put on the 60-day IL.
How Much Time Will it Take for These Pitchers to Recover?
As of early October, fans know that Ray, McGee, and Murfee have had or will have Tommy John surgery to stabilize their elbows. Marco Gonzales had surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve in his forearm, and Emerson Hancock had a platelet-rich injection to his shoulder to accelerate healing. The latter two will likely be ready to join the team at Spring Training while the three who had TJ surgeries will likely miss a good chunk of the 2024 season.
It is clear that pitching takes a lot out of a player's shoulders and arms. The Mariners were fortunate to have a number of young pitchers who turned out to be more than ready to be in the big leagues.