Updated: 8:58 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Cliff Lee might have thrown his last pitch of the 2014 season Thursday night.
Lee abruptly left his start against the Washington Nationals with a recurrence of the left elbow strain that sidelined him for two months earlier this season.
Lee exited with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. He threw a pitch -- his 31st of the game -- to Washington leadoff man Denard Span, shook his head, uttered an expletive, waved his arms that he was done, and gestured toward his elbow before leaving the field with athletic trainer Scott Sheridan.
The official word from the Phillies was that Lee suffered a recurrence of the flexor-pronator tendon strain that had sent him to the disabled list on May 20. Given that Lee missed two months with that injury and now has a similar problem, it’s not a stretch to believe that his season is over.
Lee, who turns 36 in August, is owed the remainder of $25 million for this season and is guaranteed $37.5 million after this season. How this injury impacts next season is unclear, but if Lee were to require surgery, he could miss time in 2015, as well.
Lee is expected to go on the disabled list. David Buchanan is likely to come up from Triple A to fill Lee’s spot.
Lee came off the disabled list 10 days ago. He did not look sharp in his first two starts, leading some scouts who had watched him to wonder about his health.
This latest setback came just four hours after the non-waiver trade deadline (the Phillies did nothing). Lee was available for a deal, but teams were leery to trade for him because they wanted more time to evaluate his condition after his time on the DL. This latest setback will likely scuttle any chance the Phils have of moving Lee in an August waiver deal.