In a surprising and saddening development, Nationals reliever Koda Glover has announced that he’s retiring as a player at just 26 years of age. Injuries have ravaged the former eighth-round pick’s promising career and limited him to just 55 1/3 innings since making his Major League debut as a 23-year-old back in 2016.
Glover had Tommy John surgery before he was even drafted by the Nationals and has also battled a torn labrum in his hip, repeated back and shoulder troubles and, in 2019, a forearm strain that generated concerns about yet another elbow surgery.
“I write to you all today with great despair, that I will be announcing my retirement from professional baseball,” Glover writes. “I have experienced a number of injuries the past three years and I believe it is time to step away from my playing career. I have loved this game from the moment I took my first steps and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life.” His statement goes on to thank the Nationals organizations, its fans, and the coaches and teammates who’ve impacted him throughout his brief career.
Glover was heralded by managerial legend Dusty Baker as the Nationals’ potential closer of the future, and given his possession of a fastball that averaged better than 96 mph and a wipeout slider, it’s easy to see why Baker wasn’t alone in thinking that. Glover did save eight games for the Nationals in 2017, but injuries never allowed him to reach even 20 innings in a big league season — and they surely contributed to some of his struggles on the mound as well. Glover revealed after the 2016 season that he’d been pitching through a torn labrum in his hip, and he pitched through rotator cuff issues the following year.
Overall, he’ll be forced to step away from the game after pitching 55 1/3 innings with nine saves, a 4.55 ERA and a 42-to-21 K/BB ratio. His retirement will open a spot on the Nationals’ 40-man roster — it’s now at 31 players — and will only further underscore the team’s need for bullpen help. Best wishes to Glover in whatever path he chooses to pursue in his post-playing days.