The news couldn't be worse for the slumping Miami Marlins, who will have to go on without one of the game's best pitchers.
Anthony DeSclafani will be called up to fill in for Jose Fernandez as Miami tries to avoid a three-game road sweep to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
After much speculation, Marlins president Michael Hill confirmed Tuesday that Fernandez has a significant tear in his right elbow. Team physician Lee Kaplan has recommended season-ending Tommy John surgery for the reigning NL rookie of the year, who was 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts this season.
"Pitching's a precious commodity and we've always tried to be very careful with it. So you try to err on the side of caution," Hill said. "We've done everything we've thought was the right thing, as to how we've handled him. It's just one of those things that happened."
Fernandez's absence will make things all the more difficult on the Marlins (20-20), who have been outscored 37-14 during a five-game skid. Giancarlo Stanton collected two of the team's five hits in Tuesday's 7-1 defeat.
"He'll be back full strength next year," Los Angeles starter Josh Beckett said Tuesday after recording his first win since Sept. 30, 2012. "Obviously, they're going to miss his leadership and what he brings to the ballpark on the days he pitches and the days he doesn't. He brings the 'Puig factor' to that ballclub.''
Miami is hoping to get a boost from DeSclafani in his big league debut. The former University of Florida standout went 3-4 with a 4.19 ERA over eight starts at Double-A Jacksonville.
"He's a guy that's done well in the minor leagues and we felt like he was probably the most ready to make the start," manager Mike Redmond said of the 24-year-old right-hander. "Out of all of our younger guys, he's probably a little more polished because he's a college guy and he's got a few more innings under his belt, as far as experience.
"There's no doubt that losing Jose is a big blow, but it's also an opportunity for guys to step up and show what they can do."
DeSclafani will try to slow down a Dodgers team that's gone 9 for 21 with runners in scoring position over the last two games. Yasiel Puig homered and drove in four runs in Monday's 6-5 win, then added two more hits Tuesday. The Cuban sensation is batting .423 with four homers and 16 RBIs during a career-best 13-game hitting streak, and has hit safely in all five games against Miami this season, batting .368 with nine RBIs.
The Dodgers (22-19) give the ball to Paul Maholm (1-3, 4.71 ERA), who allowed three runs, three hits and a season-high four walks over 5 2-3 innings in Friday's 3-1 loss to San Francisco. The left-hander dropped to 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA over four home starts.
However, Maholm is 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA in his last six against the Marlins. He yielded three runs and nine hits - including homers to Jeff Baker and Jeff Mathis - over six innings in a 9-7, 11-inning road victory May 3.
Maholm can't be looking forward to facing Stanton, who is 5 for 9 with three doubles in their matchups. Stanton is batting .389 with four homers and 13 RBIs during a career-best 15-game hitting streak.
The Marlins, losers in four straight and seven of nine at Chavez Ravine, are a major league-worst 3-15 on the road.