Jonny Venters’ left arm may have finally succumbed to the strain of his heavy workloads, as the Braves placed the setup man on the disabled list with an elbow impingement.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that there has never been any talk of Venters being hurt until now, but there have been signs within his performance dating back to late last season.
Venters was ridiculously good last year and the Braves rode him extremely hard, calling on the left-hander for a league-leading 85 appearances and 88 innings. He faded down the stretch, posting a 5.65 ERA in his final 15 games compared to a 1.10 ERA through 70 games.
He bounced back this season by allowing zero earned runs in April, but since May 1 he has a 6.08 ERA. That includes six homers and 18 runs allowed in 24 innings after Venters allowed a grand total of two homers and 19 runs in 88 innings last season. Of course, Venters also has 26 strikeouts in those 24 innings since May 1 and if he’s been able to do that while pitching through an injury … well, that’s pretty damn amazing.
Since the beginning of 2010 the Braves have called on Venters for 204 appearances, which is the most in baseball and no one else is above 193. He was ridden hard and put away wet.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.