HomeMLB RumorsSpencer Strider Diagnosed With UCL Damage Following MRI

Spencer Strider Diagnosed With UCL Damage Following MRI

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Braves right-hander Spencer Strider underwent an MRI today and the testing revealed that the ace hurler has suffered damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, per a team announcement. The next step for the Braves is for Strider to be evaluated by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Meister, though the club noted that a date for that visit has yet to be determined.

UCL damage is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery, though it appears no determination has yet been made regarding Strider’s specific treatment plan. If Strider does end up going under the knife, it won’t be the first time the hurler’s right elbow has required surgery. Before being drafted by the Braves in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, Strider underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2019 while pitching for Clemson University. If required, a second surgery would surely bring Strider’s 2024 campaign to an early close while also shelving him for much of the 2025 campaign as well.

Even less severe options are likely to result in an extended absence for the right-hander, however. For example, Red Sox righty Lucas Giolito underwent an internal brace procedure on his UCL last month that could allow him to pitch the entire 2025 campaign, though he’ll still miss all of the current season. Meanwhile, Guardians right-hander Triston McKenzie required only rehab for a UCL sprain suffered last June and managed to return to the mound after just over three months on the shelf.

Regardless of what treatment is ultimately prescribed for Strider, it appears he’s ticketed for a significant absence. It’s a brutal blow for the Braves, though not entirely unexpected after the club announced yesterday that Strider would undergo an MRI on his elbow. The fourth place finisher in NL Cy Young award voting last year, Strider has emerged as one of the best young pitchers in the sport over the past two seasons, pitching to an excellent 3.36 ERA with a sterling 2.43 FIP while striking out a sensational 37.4% of batters faced. That incredible strikeout rate is by far the best of all qualified starters over the past two seasons, with reigning NL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell, who sports a 31.7% rate, standing as the only other pitcher to post a figure north of 30%.

Fortunately for Atlanta, the club is about as well equipped as any team could be to handle an extended absence from a pitcher of Strider’s caliber. Pending free agent Max Fried is an ace in his own right with a career 3.06 ERA, while veteran southpaw Chris Sale is only a few years removed from being one of the most dominant pitchers on the planet in Chicago and Boston. With those two at the front of the rotation, veterans Charlie Morton and Reynaldo Lopez in the middle, and quality youngsters Bryce Elder and AJ Smith-Shawver available as depth options for the fifth spot in the rotation, the Braves’ rotation should be able to support the club’s excellent offense as they push for their seventh consecutive NL East title even without Strider in the mix.

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