Spencer Strider's elbow discomfort is disconcerting for Braves fans

After an uncharacteristically bad start, the Braves ace provided concerning news after the game.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Spencer Strider got the start in the Braves home opener Friday night against the Diamondbacks and it did not go well. The righty tossed four innings and allowed five runs with three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 88 pitches during that time as well. After the game, multiple Braves beat writers reported that the 25-year-old was experiencing elbow discomfort and will get an MRI on Saturday.

It's a shame to hear Spencer is dealing with this after such a promising start to 2024 and he's been doing a lot to show fans he loves having them around as well.

During Friday's game, there was an inkling something wasn't right with Strider. His fastball velocity was noticeably down. His average was down by 1.2 MPH and he threw just his eighth fastballs in his MLB career that clocked at 94 MPH or slower with a 93.8 MPH heater.

He was able to maintain around 96 mph but that is a far cry from the usual 97-99 mph he hovers around.

Brian Snitker said after the game that Strider came in from the dugout after his last inning saying that his elbow was bothering him, but he didn't know if it was just that final inning or throughout the game.

What a Spencer Strider elbow injury could mean for the Braves

Of course, the biggest concern with an elbow injury is Tommy John surgery. Strider previously underwent the surgery during his sophomore year at Clemson, which allowed him to focus on retooling and becoming the pitcher he is today.

A second Tommy John would significantly alter the Braves pitching staff, as the team would likely turn to Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, Darius Vines, or Allan Winans, who are currently on the club's 40-man roster. It would also alter the club's pitching plans for next season, as the timeline for recovery is 12-18 months.

Of course, not all elbow injuries require Tommy John Surgery. Gerrit Cole experienced elbow discomfort at the beginning of Spring Training and while he's set to miss a few months, the surgery isn't on the table at the time of this writing.

In 2021, Zac Gallen went on the IL with a UCL sprain in May but was back on the mound by mid-June. He made 31 starts in 2022 and 34 starts in 2023, finishing in the top-5 in Cy Young voting in both seasons.

Obviously, Braves fans are bracing for the worst, but it's important to remember that not all elbow injuries lead to Tommy John surgery. Hopefully, that is the case here and Atlanta's ace is only sidelined for a couple of weeks.

If it is minor, it's better that it happened now and not late in the season. However, elbow discomfort is the worst thing to hear a pitcher experience. Atlanta will be very cautious with Strider throughout this process. We will provide more details to you as they are made available.

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