Kyle Bradish Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

Kyle Bradish Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

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Orioles general manager Mike Elias informed reporters that right-hander Kyle Bradish underwent Tommy John surgery with an internal brace today. He’ll be out for the rest of this year and part of 2025 as well. Danielle Allentuck of the Baltimore Banner was among those to relay the news on X. Additionally, left-hander Danny Coulombe had bone chips removed from his elbow, per Allentuck on X. The southpaw could return this year but is likely out until September.

The Bradish news is a brutal blow for the club’s rotation. He had a tremendous breakout season with the O’s last year, making 30 starts with a 2.83 earned run average. He struck out 25% of batters faced, limited walks to a 6.6% rate and got grounders at a 49.2% clip.

Things got scary here in 2024, as Bradish was diagnosed with a sprain of his UCL in mid-February. The club initially tried non-surgical interventions and seemed to have some success. Bradish was given a platelet-rich plasma injection and was showing “accelerated healing” by early March, per Bradish himself.

Things seemed to accelerate fairly normally from there. Bradish was able to start a rehab assignment by the second week of April and was reinstated from the injured list in early May. He made eight starts for the big league club with a 2.75 ERA. But he landed back on the injured list last week, again due to a sprain of his UCL, with surgery apparently unavoidable this time around.

In hindsight, it would be easy to dismiss the past four months as simply delaying the inevitable, but pitchers have suffered UCL injuries and avoided surgery before. Masahiro Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in 2014, for instance, but never got it repaired and went on to pitch between 150 and 200 innings in each of the five following seasons. Seth Lugo was also found to have a slight tear in 2017 but didn’t go under the knife. More recently, Triston McKenzie was diagnosed with a UCL sprain last summer but has made 14 starts for the Guardians this year.

Given the 14 to 18 months of recovery that are generally needed after Tommy John surgery, pitchers and teams usually prefer to exhaust non-surgical options before surrendering to the surgeon’s table. The O’s and Bradish believed they had a path open to them and tried to take it, but unfortunately couldn’t make it work in this instance.

This is now the third starting pitcher that the Orioles have lost to season-ending UCL surgery this year, as both Tyler Wells and John Means went down this road before Bradish. Despite those losses, the rotation has been a strength overall. Baltimore starter’s have a combined ERA of 3.03 this year, which trails only the Yankees and Phillies. But maintaining such a position without those three will be a challenge.

As of now, the O’s are left with Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Cole Irvin, Cade Povich and Albert Suárez in the rotation, but it seems fair to expect the O’s to pursue additions prior to the July 30 deadline. Povich has just two major league starts under his belt so far. Irvin has a 3.03 ERA on the year but is only striking out 17.9% of batters faced. His 4.16 SIERA this year and his career ERA of 4.24 perhaps suggest some regression is coming. Suárez has a 2.05 ERA but is a 34-year-old journeyman with a 19.7% strikeout rate and 81.9% strand rate.

Dean Kremer should be rejoining that group shortly, as he is on the injured list but currently on a rehab assignment. However, he’s more of a solid back-end guy, with an ERA of 4.35 in his career and a mark of 4.32 this year. In terms of depth options, Levi Stoudt was just claimed off waivers but has a 6.92 ERA in Triple-A this year. Bruce Zimmermann is on the 40-man but hasn’t pitched since mid-May. Jonathan Heasley is also on the roster but has been working as a swingman in the minors.

Last week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the club would be waiting until closer to the deadline to decide on their starting pitching approach. With Bradish now out for the year, that will presumably increase their desire to pursue starting pitching in the months to come. In the meantime, Bradish will be transferred to the 60-day injured list whenever the O’s need his roster spot. He’ll spent the rest of the year on the shelf and will qualify for arbitration this offseason as a Super Two player.

The news on Coulombe isn’t as bad but is still significant. The lefty has a career ERA of 3.57 and that mark is just 2.68 since joining the O’s prior to the 2023 season. He has thrown 77 1/3 innings since coming to Baltimore, striking out 28.5% of batters faced while limiting walks to a 5% clip.

He landed on the IL a week ago due to left elbow inflammation and it now seems he’s going to miss several months, leaving the Orioles with Cionel Pérez, Keegan Akin and Nick Vespi as southpaws in their bullpen.

Like Bradish, Coulombe will be a candidate to be moved to the 60-day IL whenever the O’s need a roster spot for someone else. The two sides avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a one-year deal with a club option in January. That option has a $4MM base salary and escalators that start at 50 appearances. He’s made 29 appearances so far this year but won’t be able to get that number up to 50 if he’s out until September. He will cross six years of service by the end of the season and be a free agent if the O’s decline that option.

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