Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove sustained a broken big toe in his left foot during a weight room accident yesterday, the team announced to reporters this morning (Twitter link via Dennis Lin of The Athletic). The Padres have not yet revealed a timeline for Musgrove’s return.
The severity of the fracture and the recommended treatment aren’t yet clear, though it seems fair to presume that Musgrove will be sidelined for a meaningful period of time. Fractures of this nature can potentially require a walking boot, and even absent that, a broken big toe in a pitcher’s landing foot is problematic for obvious reasons.
It’s a dismal bit of injury luck for both pitcher and team, as the 30-year-old Musgrove is headed into the first season of a five-year, $100MM contract extension signed last July. He’s fresh off an All-Star season that saw him pitch to a sterling 2.93 ERA in 181 innings, fanning a strong 24.9% of hitters against a similarly impressive 5.7% walk rate along the way. Musgrove also ranked among the best in the league in terms of suppressing hard contact, landing in the 90th percentile of MLB pitchers with an 86.4 mph average exit velocity and in the 88th percentile with just a 32.4% hard-hit rate.
The typically durable Musgrove has made at least 30 starts and tallied at least 170 innings pitched in each of the past three 162-game seasons. Over the past four seasons, he’s only been placed on the injured twice — missing about three weeks in 2020 due to triceps inflammation in addition to about a week on the Covid-related injured list this past season.
Assuming Musgrove is indeed unavailable to begin the 2023 season, newly extended righty Yu Darvish would likely be in line for the Opening Day nod for San Diego. Darvish will be followed by lefty Blake Snell, recently signed right-hander Michael Wacha and relievers-turned-starters Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo. The recent signing of Wacha now looks all the more critical for the Friars, who’d otherwise have been left with just two established big league starters in the wake of this Musgrove injury.
San Diego has been angling for a six-man rotation to begin he season, in part to help manage the workload of Martinez and Lugo, who pitched just 106 1/3 innings and 65 innings in 2022, respectively. If the plan is still to trot out a six-man unit, that could open the door for a younger arm like 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 like Julio Teheran, Wilmer Font and Aaron Brooks in camp as non-roster invitees. Cole Hamels also inked a minor league pact as part of a comeback bid, but he’ll still be building up in extended spring training when the regular season opens.
More to come.