Angels bullpen takes a hit after Tommy John surgery for reliever

Justin Anderson, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Justin Anderson, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Justin Anderson will become the latest Los Angeles Angels pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery.

The injury bug has once again bitten the Los Angeles Angels and their pitching staff. While the team thought the delayed season was going to allow them to escape the curse in 2020, it appears that some things remain normal even in these strange times.

Thus far, most of the injuries in the camp have been coronavirus related, as some pitchers have been late or have not yet reported to spring training 2.0 due to exposure to the virus. However, the latest injury travels a familiar road; Tommy John.

The Angels, via a team announcement, informed media and the fans that reliever Justin Anderson recently underwent an MRI on his pitching elbow, revealing a tear. As such, he will miss the remainder of the season and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery in the near future.

"“UCL reconstruction surgery is the recommended course of treatment. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, July 22nd.”"

Anderson has been a mainstay in the Angels bullpen over the last two seasons. While he was solid during his rookie campaign in 2018, when he put up a 4.07 ERA, a 3.83 FIP, and a 10.9 K/9 over 55.1 innings of work, he struggled in 2019. In 47 innings stretched over 54 appearances, Anderson was rocked to the tune of a 5.55 ERA.

Strikeouts have never been a problem for the right-hander, as he’s averaged 11.2 K/9 during his short MLB career. However, Anderson saw a number of downward trends in 2019. He lost nearly three MPH on his fastball, watched his strand rate drop from 74.6% to 64.6%, his groundball rate dropped from 50.8% to just 35.2%, and his HR/9 rate double from 0.49 in 2018 to 1.15 last season.

While the loss of Anderson will hurt, the Angels arguably have some solid bullpen depth in 2020. In addition to closer Hansel Robles, and set-up men Cam Bedrosian and Ty Buttrey, the Halos are should get a healthy season from Keynan Middleton. There is also the possibility that Felix Pena or Patrick Sandoval could be part of the bullpen mix if they don’t make the starting rotation. Taylor Cole, Ryan Buchter, Noe Ramirez, Mike Mayers, Jacob Rhame, and Luke Bard will also compete as camp wraps up.

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The last Angels pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery was Shohei Ohtani, who returns to the mound for the first time in 2020. Normal recovery time for the surgery can vary from 12-18 months.