Blaine Hardy was quietly optioned to Triple-A Toledo last week after recording just two outs in his previous three outings. While it first seemed like Hardy was just battling the usual pitfalls of a major league pitcher, it turns out something wasn’t right in his left arm. Hardy sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, and after a few days of waiting, we now have our verdict.
According to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Hardy received a PRP injection in his left elbow on Tuesday, and will likely miss the remainder of the 2019 season. Hardy has been dealing with the pain for a while now, which has forced him to abandon the cutter that made him one of Detroit’s best starters for a stretch in 2018. He has put up decent numbers this year, but his 4.47 ERA in 44 1⁄3 innings pales in comparison to the 3.56 mark he put up last season. He threw the cutter nearly one-third of the time in 2018, but has used it just 12.6 percent of the time this year.
Fortunately for Hardy, he will get paid a major league salary along the way. As McCosky notes, Hardy had his injury examined before reporting to the Mud Hens, and will instead be placed on the MLB 10-day injured list.
Because he used the 72-hour window before he had to report to Toledo to get the second opinion, and never actually reported, the option will be rescinded and he will be on the MLB injured list.
Umm.. what’s a PRP injection?
A PRP, or platelet-rich plasma injection, is a procedure in which a person has their blood drawn, then spun in a centrifuge to separate the different components of said blood. The platelets are then injected into the affected area (Hardy’s elbow, in this case) to facilitate healing. After injection, the platelets release growth factors, which facilitates healing. Though research on the procedure is still inconclusive, it is generally believed that the injections will be most effective in treating chronic injuries like tendonitis.
Unfortunately, Hardy’s future with the Tigers is uncertain. He will be arbitration eligible again this winter, and projections will likely put his salary near $2 million. However, because of his up-and-down performance on the field — not to mention a potentially balky elbow going forward — he could be a non-tender candidate for a Tigers club that will have several prospects they need to protect from Rule 5 draft selection.
Hardy originally signed with the Tigers as a minor league free agent back in 2013. He quickly established himself as one of the team’s more consistent relievers, logging a 3.09 ERA in 126 combined innings from 2014 to 2016. He was notoriously stingy when it came to allowing home runs during that span; Hardy gave up just five homers across those three seasons. Unfortunately, the change in baseball composition has been his undoing — since the start of 2017, Hardy has given up 27 home runs in 163 2⁄3 innings, or roughly 1.5 per nine innings.