June 19, 2024

The Atlanta Braves face the challenge of pursuing a World Series victory without their star pitcher, Spencer Strider, who is set to sit out the remainder of the 2024 season due to surgery to mend the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Braves revealed on Saturday that Strider underwent the procedure on Friday, performed by Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Texas, utilizing an internal brace to address the UCL injury.

Strider, who topped Major League Baseball in the previous season with 20 victories and 281 strikeouts, faced difficulties in his first two starts of the current year. As he embarked on his third season in the majors, he was considered an early contender for the National League Cy Young Award. However, his chances have diminished following his recent performance. In his sole two starts of 2024, he managed just 12 strikeouts while conceding seven runs over nine innings.

Strider, aged 25, underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2019 while he was at Clemson. During his recovery period, he utilized the time to delve into his mechanics and learn how to prevent further injuries. His journey was detailed by Justin Toscano in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in June 2022.

“When you’re rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and you begin throwing again, initially, you’re exerting minimal effort,” explained Strider. “You’re barely throwing, really. That’s the case for most of the rehab process. So, you have the opportunity to manipulate your body and position it in ways that you desire because the movements are so slow. Consequently, it’s challenging to assess if you’re actually adopting these new movement patterns.”

Strider progressed through the minor leagues swiftly and established himself as a formidable presence in the majors. However, he now faces the task of reassessing his approach to avoid another elbow injury.

“And then as you gradually increase the effort, you realize that your body naturally wants to revert to its familiar patterns, because that’s what it’s accustomed to. I was particularly focused on adjusting my back arm to shorten its path and align with my desired trajectory. However, I soon recognized the importance of paying more attention to my front side, which ultimately guides my arm where it needs to be. Once I grasped this concept, progress started to occur more rapidly.”

In light of Strider’s absence, Atlanta will likely turn to Bryce Elder to fill the void in the rotation. Elder, who started 31 games in the majors last season and earned an All-Star nod, began this year in Triple-A following a challenging second half of 2023.

Another potential option is AJ Smith-Shawver, the organization’s top prospect, who saw action in five games with Atlanta last season. Known for his powerful fastball, Smith-Shawver has struggled with command of his secondary pitches, resulting in 10 of the first 19 batters he faced in Triple-A reaching base.

Whoever Atlanta relies on may not completely compensate for the significant absence of Strider, but they could serve as a temporary fix and potentially aid the Braves in navigating through every fifth game.

Spencer Strider to Miss Rest of 2024

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