The Miami Marlins went on a tear this past week, winning seven of their last 10 games to bring their record to 12-12. Despite the team's excellent play, everything has not been perfect. While the offense has come alive, the bullpen has struggled with a 4.87 ERA over the past seven days. These struggles were expected, however, as the Marlins have key relief pieces on the DL.
Mike Dunn has been on the DL since the beginning of the season, and Edwin Jackson was placed there on April 16th. While Jose Urena has pitched better than his ERA numbers suggest (his FIP is 1.17), other replacements for Dunn and Jackson, such as Cody Ege and Nick Wittgren, have been significant downgrades. For the Marlins to be successful, it is imperative that the bullpen improves as we enter May. The return of Dunn and Jackson cannot come soon enough.
Below you will find updates on the Marlins' injury-related transactions and specific players' injury situations.
- Carter Capps - 60-day DL
- Mike Dunn - 15-day DL (March 25th)
- Edwin Jackson - 15-day DL (April 19th)
In an interview on April 28th with Joe Frisaro, Don Mattingly indicated that Dunn is at least one month away from his return:
Dunner is at least 30 days away, I would think coming back. It helps that he's a reliever and doesn't have to get built up. But he hasn't thrown in a while. He's just starting his program."
It appears that Dunn's left forearm strain was more serious than originally believed. If Mattingly's timetable is correct, that would put Dunn's recovery time at around eight weeks. In a previous injury report, I speculated that Dunn had suffered a Grade 1 strain. In a Grade 1 strain, there is a stretching of individual muscle fibers with the possibility of small tears. The typical recovery time for this injury is two to three weeks. However, due to Dunn's extended absence, it is likely he had a Grade 2 forearm strain or suffered some type of re-injury.
In a Grade 2 forearm strain, muscle fibers are stretched further, with more extensive tearing and a loss of arm strength. However, the muscle is not completely ruptured and the typical recovery time is three to six weeks. Dunn may have a Grade 2 strain and is just taking extra time to fully heal.
It is also possible that Dunn suffered Grade 1 strain, was rushed back too quickly, and then re-injured his throwing arm. He was originally scheduled for an April 9th return, but reported tightness in his forearm twice during a 23 pitch bullpen session. Was Dunn not fully healed before his bullpen session? We can never know for certain, but hopefully the training staff is extra-cautious this time around and Dunn returns to the field with no further hangups. He is currently throwing off flat ground every day.
Jackson was placed on the 15-day DL on April 19th with a right triceps strain. However, Don Mattingly believes that he will return sooner than Dunn:
Edwin is probably a little quicker, but we've got to be careful with the lat, triceps, that area. He has to be built up a little bit because he's our long guy. He has to be built up to 50-60 pitches. It's going to take a little bit of time too.
As Mattingly states, Jackson will need some extra time to recover because he is the long man. He must build up arm strength so that he can pitch extended innings from the bullpen. However, Jackson's recovery seems to be progressing nicely, as he has been throwing every day. If there are no setbacks, he should return in a few weeks.
As I have repeated ad naseum, it is important the Marlins do not rush any pitcher's rehabilitation schedule. The team is performing adequately without Dunn and Jackson, and the training staff should make sure they are fully healed before they attempt to return. As we are seeing with Dunn, bringing a player back from injury before he is fully healed can cause him to have a major setback and extend his time on the DL. That doesn't mean we as fans won't become impatient! However, with the right amount of patience, we will get to see the glorious (
or inglorious) return of Jackson and Dunn. They will certainly be a much needed boost for a struggling bullpen.