Rays right-hander Nick Anderson underwent a UCL brace procedure on his right elbow, according to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Anderson will miss the majority of the 2022 season recovering from the surgery, as he isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.
Elbow problems already cost Anderson virtually all of the 2021 campaign, as he suffered a partial ligament tear during Spring Training last March and then didn’t pitch until September, eventually tossing only six innings. Anderson also missed about two weeks of the 2020 season due to forearm inflammation, but didn’t seem any worse for wear, allowing only one earned run in seven regular-season innings after returning from the 10-day injured list.
It is fair to wonder, however, whether Anderson’s heavy usage in the 2020 postseason led to his current issues. Anderson pitched 14 2/3 innings over 10 playoff games and lacked much of his effectiveness from the regular season, delivering only a 5.52 ERA after allowing runs in eight of those appearances.
Anderson is already 31 years old and didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 28, but he achieved definite late-bloomer status with his big strikeout numbers out of the Marlins and Rays bullpens. Anderson posted a stunning 42.2% strikeout rate over his first 81 1/3 Major League innings, complementing all those missed bats with some strong control (6.5% walk rate). Tampa Bay acquired Anderson from Miami at the 2019 trade deadline, and quickly made the righty a featured member of their ever-shifting relief corps.
Unfortunately for Anderson, his abbreviated 2021 season came just before he became eligible for salary arbitration, so he is projected for a modest $900K salary in his first trip through the arb process. Given how the Rays operate within such a tight budget, it now seems possible that they could potentially non-tender Anderson, if the team has any doubts about how he might recover from this latest setback. Or, the Rays might just figure that $900K could be better allocated towards a player who could help them for the entire season, rather than just the last two-plus months.