Daisuke Matsuzaka has been an unsung hero for the New York Mets this season. Matsuzaka has pitched as both a reliever and a starter and has filled both roles admirably. Matsuzaka was shifted back to the bullpen this week when Jonathon Niese came off the disabled list, and was tattooed by the Milwaukee Brewers last night. Matsuzaka gave up three earned runs on an uncharacteristic two homers last night in two innings of work, and it appears there may be reason for concern.
The Mets sent Matsuzaka back to New York for exams on his elbow, manager Terry Collins told reporters prior to Friday night's game with the Brewers. (Credit to MetsBlog for the initial report). Matsuzaka complained of elbow pain after the outing last night, and the team immediately sent him back for an MRI on the elbow. If the MRI reveals structural damage, Matsuzaka could be out for a while.
The worst case scenario would be Tommy John surgery, which would end Matsuzaka's season and possibly knock him out for all of next season as well. Losing Matsuzaka would also be a blow for the Mets' bullpen, as Dice-K has been a valuable contributor to the group this season. Even if the MRI comes up relatively clean, the Mets could shut him down for a couple of weeks to try and rest him for the remainder of the season.
The short term alternative for the bullpen would be to bring back either Gonzalez Germen or Buddy Carlyle from Triple-A Las Vegas. A longer term solution could be Jeremy Hefner, who is currently on a rehab assignment with the rookie league Gulf Coast League Mets. Losing Matsuzaka for the long term could open up a spot for Hefner in the bullpen as soon as mid-August. All of these scenarios, however, must wait until the results of Dice-K's MRI exam are known.
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