Nationals reliever Will Harris will undergo surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, manager Dave Martinez told reporters (including Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington). It’s expected to end his 2021 season.
The surgery marks the culmination of a difficult year for Harris. The veteran righty was delayed to start the season by inflammation in his throwing hand that affected his feel for the ball. He did manage to get back on a major league mound, tossing six innings over eight appearances. Harris was ineffective in that brief time, though, and he wound up back on the 10-day injured list last week. The Nationals figure to eventually transfer him to the 60-day IL, whenever the need for an additional 40-man roster spot emerges.
The recent track record of pitchers returning from the procedure is fairly spotty. Successful comebacks from TOS aren’t unheard of; current Rangers GM Chris Young and former Cardinals lefty Jaime García stayed healthy after the operation over the long haul. Diamondbacks righty Merrill Kelly has made all his starts so far in 2021 after having the surgery last September. Still, there are a few prominent players (Matt Harvey chief among them) who never managed to return to their prior form after the procedure. It’s a particularly concerning development for Harris, who’ll turn 37 years old in August.
Before this unfortunate saga, Harris built a reputation as one of the sport’s most consistent relievers. The veteran didn’t allow more than 3.49 earned runs per nine in any season between 2015-20. That reliability earned him a three-year deal from Washington over the 2019-20 offseason. He remains under contract in 2022 on an $8MM salary.