Brandon McCarthy will miss the rest of the season because of a torn elbow ligament, throwing the Dodgers’ starting rotation into disarray.
McCarthy said he anticipates undergoing Tommy John surgery. That would put him on course to return around the All-Star break next season, he said.
McCarthy, 31, signed with the Dodgers for four years and $48 million, the most prominent winter signing by the team’s new front office. In his first nine years in the major leagues, he had started 30 games once and been on the disabled list 11 times, but never with an elbow injury.
“This falls for me into the ‘this could happen to anyone’ category,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations.
Friedman would not say whether he believed Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not pitched this season because of what the team has called inflammation and tightness in his left shoulder, would return by June 1. For now, the Dodgers’ rotation consists of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, the oft-injured Brett Anderson and two vacancies.
Friedman said trades in April and May “are pretty uncommon” and indicated the Dodgers would fill the rotation vacancies internally for the next two months on a “turn by turn” basis. Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies is available, and by June pending free agents could become available if their clubs are far out of the race. Such pitchers could include Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds, Jeff Samardzija of the Chicago White Sox and Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals.
“We’ll wake up in June having scouted other organizations over the next 4-6 weeks, and we’ll see where we are,” Friedman said.
He refused to rule out trading any of the Dodgers’ top young players – center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager or pitcher Julio Urias. The Phillies previously told the Dodgers a trade proposal for Hamels would be a nonstarter if those three youngsters were untouchable.
“We don’t have any hard and fast rules,” Friedman said. “I think it would be incredibly difficult for us to trade guys who could be potential foundation pieces for us for a long time.”
Friedman did rule out calling up the 19-year-old Urias from double A any time soon.
Scott Baker, who gave up three runs in seven innings in a spot start Sunday, will make at least one more start for the Dodgers, Friedman said. He said the Dodgers also could consider the rest of their triple-A rotation – Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, Zach Lee and Joe Wieland – as well as two pitchers on the comeback trail from 2014 Tommy John surgery, Brandon Beachy and Ross Stripling.
McCarthy was 3-0 with a 5.87 earned-run average in four starts; he had given up nine home runs in 23 innings.
“I hope I am easily replaceable,” he said.
He said he hopes to celebrate a championship at the end of the season, no matter how little his contribution would have been. He said he was disappointed to learn of the injury and said he could not help but wonder if the ligament still would have been torn had he stopped pitching when he first felt discomfort in Saturday’s game.
“That will be the only question I have,” he said. “I don’t know, if I kept going, if I was just making it worse. But I won’t spend the rest of my life regretting it.”
In 2012, McCarthy suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of the Angels’ Erick Aybar.
“I had way worse news delivered to me with the brain thing,” McCarthy said. “The brain thing puts everything into perspective.”