Rangers reliever Jake Diekman is expected to miss “at least half” of the 2017 season after undergoing surgery to “help alleviate ulcerative colitis,” according to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). That’s certainly frightening news for the 29-year-old; MLBTR extends its best wishes to him for a full recovery.
News of the surgery is most unwelcome for both Diekman and the Rangers. It’s a significant blow to the Texas organization’s late-inning bullpen mix. While there’s solid depth overall, Diekman is clearly the team’s top relief southpaw. Alex Claudio now stands as Texas’s top setup lefty.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that can come with a variety of side effects, ranging from the unpleasant to the debilitating. Diekman has long battled the ailment, and it seems that a surgical course was finally deemed necessary. If you’re interested in learning more about the condition and Diekman’s charitable efforts involving it, click here.
Diekman had just agreed to a $2.55MM salary to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, and he’ll stand to receive all of that unless the team changes its mind before the start of the season. Odds are, Texas will take its chances on a return. The hope is, it seems, that Diekman will make it back in 2017, and he’s controllable for one more year through the arb process. Missing such a lengthy stretch will obviously dent his future arb earnings, it’s also important to point out.
Texas will no doubt miss Diekman’s presence for whatever stretch he is out. Last year, he worked 53 frames and posted a 3.40 ERA. Though he continues to struggle with command at times, Diekman is tough to square up. Relying mostly on a mid-nineties sinker, which he combines with a slider and little-used change, he typically produces plenty of groundballs and strikeouts. Diekman carries nearly a 50% grounder rate to go with 11.0 K/9 for his career.