The Atlanta Braves have placed left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty on the disabled list with a left elbow strain, the club announced Saturday. As a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Cory Rasmus has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
And now, the worst news: According to multiple reports (including from MLB.com's Mark Bowman), O'Flaherty's MRI revealed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his elbow. That is the ligament that requires Tommy John surgery to repair. O'Flaherty will visit the esteemed Dr. James Andrews this week.
O'Flaherty used to team up with fellow lefty Jonny Venters as one of the best setup duos in the majors, an outstanding bridge to stud closer Craig Kimbrel. Now with Venters already having had Tommy John surgery and O'Flaherty possibly headed that way as well, the Braves have left-hander Luis Avilan and righty Cory Gearrin as the setup men.
Gearrin has been outstanding this season, with a 0.96 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. He's stranded 15 of the 20 baserunners he's inherited. Avilan, now the lone lefty in the bullpen, has a 2.25 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and has stranded eight of the 11 runners he's inherited.
Still, O'Flaherty is tough to replace. In five seasons with the Braves, he has a 1.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 249 1/3 innings pitched.
Rasmus, 25, has a 0.93 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett. He's successfully converted all seven of his save chances. He is the brother of Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus.