UPDATE: It looks like Eric O’Flaherty is facing the worst-case scenario, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. He’ll see Dr. James Andrews next week, but it would be a surprise if Tommy John surgery wasn’t the next step. The Braves’ bullpen suddenly looks quite vulnerable.
5:10 PM: The Braves’ bullpen took another hit this afternoon, as left-hander Eric O’Flaherty was placed on the disabled list with a strained left elbow. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but we should know more following an MRI.
As our own Drew Silva notes, O’Flaherty will join Jonny Venters, Jordan Walden, Luis Ayala and Cristhian Martinez on the disabled list. Venters is done for the season after Tommy John surgery while Walden was just placed on the disabled list yesterday. Meanwhile, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that neither Ayala nor Martinez are close to returning. Craig Kimbrel better invest in some bubble wrap and/or body armor.
Like Venters, O’Flaherty has been a trusted workhorse for the Braves for a few years now, posting a 1.95 ERA in 295 appearances dating back to 2009. Only Brad Ziegler, Carlos Marmol, and Luke Gregerson have appeared in more games in the same timespan.
The Braves have called up right-hander Cory Rasmus to replace O’Flaherty on the active roster. Colby’s brother has a 3.67 ERA over parts of seven seasons in the minors, including a 0.93 ERA and 21/9 K/BB ratio over 19 1/3 innings with Triple-A Gwinnett this season.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.