Astros' middling start gets worse with RHP Luis Garcia needing Tommy John surgery

The Houston Astros haven't been winning at the level MLB is used to so far this season, and now they're losing one of their most important pitchers.

Astros starter Luis Garcia will undergo Tommy John surgery, the team announced Friday, ending his 2023 season and likely making him unavailable for the start of 2024.

The injury occurred Monday in a nationally televised game against the San Francisco Giants, with the right-hander leaving after throwing only eight pitches. The Astros placed him on the 15-day injured list the next day due to what they dubbed right elbow discomfort.

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Garcia has been one of the Astros' most dependable pitchers the past few years, holding a career 3.61 ERA in 352 regular-season innings since his debut in 2020. In his last two starts before the injury, he allowed zero runs and five hits in 13 combined innings while striking out 16.

That's not someone the Astros want to lose when they're already facing a season without the services of reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who left for the New York Mets on a two-year, $86.7 million deal last winter.

The Astros also already had rotation members José Urquidy and Lance McCullers Jr. on the IL. Urquidy remains shut down due to right shoulder inflammation, while McCullers has been out since experiencing arm pain in February, per MLB.com.

Houston Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Monday, May 1, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)
The Astros' pitching depth is suddenly looking sparse. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

The only remaining pitchers who have started a game for Houston this season are Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and rookie Hunter Brown, all of whom have been solid, with a combined 2.84 ERA in 114 innings.

The Astros sit at 16-15 entering Friday, good for third in the AL West behind the 18-12 Texas Rangers and the 18-14 Los Angeles Angels.