Braves outfielder Spencer Stryder suffers an elbow injury in the MLB and will see a specialist

ATLANTA — Spencer Stryder had an MRI on his sore elbow on Saturday, and the results showed what the Atlanta Braves had feared: damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in the throwing arm of one of baseball's most dynamic talents.

The team did not determine the extent of the damage, but UCL tears usually require Tommy John surgery.

“It wasn't good, and you hate it — you hate it for it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the MRI results. “I feel bad for him, he's a kid who does everything right. He likes to compete, and just everything. So, just wait and see what they decide to do.”

Strider, 25, has had Tommy John surgery once, for a torn UCL in 2019 when he was at Clemson. The Braves said they will not have final news on the injury and treatment until Strider meets with specialist Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas, within the next few days.

Tommy John surgery will end Strider's season and likely keep him out until midway through the 2025 season, based on the rehab protocols followed by the Braves and most other teams. Although the Braves have plenty of pitching depth in the minors, there will be a significant downfall in replacing Strider, arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball.

Candidates include Bryce Elder, who made the All-Star team in 2023 in his first full MLB season before fading badly in the second inning, and left-hander Dylan Dodd, who allowed nine hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings. from Friday's Triple-A game.

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“You hate to lose him like that, but we're going to keep fighting hard,” Snitker said. “This has happened to a lot of other people, and we're not the only ones who have been bitten this year. This is just part of it. You deal with it. That's why you try to gain depth in your organization, because you know you're going to need it. No one is isolated from it, everyone goes through it. Multiple teams have dealt with this same thing.

Although many pitchers effectively return to the field after a second Tommy John surgery, there is not as much certainty about performing at the same level as for a pitcher returning from the first procedure.

“The way I look at it, you pray for the best,” Braves third baseman Austin Riley said minutes before hearing the news of the MRI. “We don't know anything yet, but the way I look at the guy is he's a guy who prepares as much as he prepares and is very diligent in everything he does… Like I said, I hope it's not too crazy. Because he prepares and cares as much as anyone on this team “I hope it will be good, better than worse.”

Hours later, after hearing about the damage to the Premier League revealed in an MRI, Reilly said: “Devastating. You don't want to hear something like that from a man who works hard and is a master of his craft. He cares so much. You just feel it. He's one of those guys where it's unfortunate, you hate for it to happen, but he's someone who will put in the time and effort to get back to where he was. “And like I said, I feel it more than anything else.”

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Catcher Travis d'Arnaud also used the word “devastating” to describe the news, adding: “This stinks. It stinks for us, but it really stinks for him. It stinks, man. It stinks.”

Strider gave up seven hits, five runs and three walks with four strikeouts in four innings of the Braves' 10-inning win Friday over the Arizona Diamondbacks, after which he told the team's trainer that his elbow was sore.

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Although Strider looked off on Friday and his fastball velocity was down 1.3 mph since the start of Opening Day and from his average velocity in 2023, Snitker, his staff and catcher Travis d'Arnaud believed Strider was having an “off” night from sort of thing. That even the best pitchers have at least a few catches in most seasons.

Snitker said the pitcher didn't say anything about the elbow during his 88-pitch outing.

“No, not until after that,” said Snitker. “Because I know he said to someone: ‘I didn’t come back because they took me out of the game.’ I think if we had asked him to go back there, he would have come back and continued playing.”

The team was still working through the logistics of setting up that appointment with Meister in Texas, but it was clear from Snitker's comments and tone that the Braves weren't expecting any encouraging news from the specialist. Their medical staff has already seen the MRI, and at this point “good news” seems unlikely.

“The good news is that he'll figure it all out and come back, and he'll go on to have a really good career,” Snitker said.

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Strider, a fourth-round pick by the Braves in 2020, reached the major leagues after just 22 minor league games, and led MLB in strikeouts and batting average over his first two full seasons in 2022-23, going 31-10 with a 3.36 ERA in 63 games, including 52 starts in that span, with an amazing 483 strikeouts in 318 1/3 innings. He was 20-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 2023 and led the majors with an Atlanta-record 281 strikeouts in 186 2/3 innings.

Before Friday, Strider needed just nine hits to become the fastest in MLB history to reach .500 among pitchers who were primarily starters.

(Photo: David J. Griffin/Ikon Sportswire via AP)

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