Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove suffered a broken left big toe during a weight room accident yesterday, the team announced to reporters this morning (Twitter link via Dennis Lin of The Athletic). The Padres have yet to reveal a timeline for Musgrove’s return.
The severity of the injury and the recommended treatment are not yet clear, although it seems reasonable to assume that Musgrove will be sidelined for a meaningful period of time. Fractures of this nature could potentially require a walking boot, and even absent, a broken big toe in a pitcher’s landing foot is problematic for obvious reasons.
It’s a sad stroke of injury luck for both pitcher and team, as the 30-year-old Musgrove is entering the first season of a five-year, $100MM contract extension signed last July. He is fresh off an All-Star season that led to a 2.93 ERA in 181 innings, striking out a strong 24.9% of batters against a similarly impressive 5.7% walk rate along the way. Musgrove also ranked among the best in the league at suppressing hard contact, landing in the 90th percentile of MLB pitchers with an average exit velocity of 86.4 mph and in the 88th percentile with just a 32.4% hard hit rate.
The typically durable Musgrove has made at least 30 starts and totaled at least 170 innings in each of the last three 162-game seasons. Over the last four seasons, he has been placed on the injured list only twice – missing about three weeks in 2020 due to triceps inflammation in addition to about a week on the Covid-related injury list this past season.
Assuming Musgrove is indeed unavailable to begin the 2023 season, the recently extended righty Yu Darvish will likely be in line for opening day for San Diego. Darvish will be followed by the lefty Blake Snellrecently signed right handed Michael Wacha and relievers who became starters Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo. The recent signing of Wacha now looks all the more critical for the Friars, who would otherwise have been left with just two established big league starters in the wake of this Musgrove injury.
San Diego has been fishing for a six-man rotation to start the season, in part to help handle the workloads of Martinez and Lugo, who pitched 106 1/3 innings and 65 innings, respectively, in 2022. If the plan is still to trot out a six-man unit, could it open the door for a younger arm who Adrian Morejon, Jay Groome, Ryan Weathers, Reiss Knehr or Pedro Avila to get some starts early in the season. Alternatively, the Padres have notable veterans such as Julio Teheran, Wilmer Font and Aaron Brooks in camp as non-roster invitees. Cole Hamels also entered into a minor league pact as part of a comeback bid, but he will still build up in extended spring training when the regular season opens.
More to come.