Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey underwent Tommy John surgery this afternoon, the club informed reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). It’s a predictable development after the hard-throwing reliever landed on the 60-day injured list with a UCL sprain in his elbow last month.
Acquired from the Reds heading into the 2019 season, Rainey has been one of Washington’s better relievers over the past couple years. He’s racked up huge strikeout and swinging strike numbers commensurate with a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and can get into the triple digits. Rainey’s control has wavered, but his high-octane arsenal has led manager Dave Martinez to progressively give him higher-leverage work the past three seasons.
This season’s 28.1% strikeout percentage was one of the lower rates of Rainey’s career, but it’s still a few points north of the league average. He’d trimmed his walk rate to a more manageable 10.2% after issuing free passes at a massive 16.6% clip last year, and he carried a 3.30 ERA through 30 innings before the injury. The rebuilding Nationals seemed likely to shop Rainey in advance of the trade deadline, but the elbow injury scuttled those plans.
Rainey will miss most or all of the 2023 campaign rehabbing, with Tommy John recoveries often taking 14-plus months. It’s a disappointing blow for the 29-year-old. Rainey has surpassed three years of service this year, and he’ll remain arbitration eligible through the 2025 campaign. He’s making $860K this year and will be in line for a small raise next winter if tendered a contract.