Baltimore Orioles closer Chris Ray (elbow) underwent Tommy John surgery Thursday, Aug. 16.
When Ray was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, July 25, it was not known this would be the outcome. Earlier this week Ray had begun a throwing program. The team hoped he would be able to make it back sometime this season. However, the pain was still persistent in his elbow, and he decided to go the surgical route. The injury will knock him out for the rest of 2007, and he will likely miss most of the 2008 season as well. Ray had gone 5-6 with 16 saves and a 4.43 ERA in 43 games this season.
While it is never a good thing to undergo elbow ligament replacement surgery, the procedure has been improved over the years. Many players have been able to come back even stronger after the surgery. Atlanta Braves starting pitcher John Smoltz and Tampa Bay Devil Rays closer Al Reyes are examples of pitchers who have undergone the surgery and come back stronger. In a bit of a coincidence, current Toronto Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan (elbow) is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Ryan was the closer Ray replaced in Baltimore. It has also been noted that some pitchers throw harder after they come back from the surgery.
Ray's likely replacement for the remainder of the season is reliever Danys Baez. He's the obvious choice as a replacement in fantasy leagues, too. His numbers, however, are hideous: 0-5 with a 6.02 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, 25 strikeouts and one save in 40 1/3 innings. He recorded 41 saves with the Devil Rays in 2005, but he hasn't displayed the same form since. In August, Baez has recorded his only save, but he has also allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. Baez is worth the addition only because of the opportunities he'll likely receive. He's available in roughly 90 percent of leagues polled.
When Ray first hit the disabled list, the Orioles were using reliever Jamie Walker to close games. He was successful in that role: He recorded four saves in July while allowing zero runs in 11 innings. However, Baltimore announced earlier in August that Baez would fill the role instead. Since then, Walker has faltered, allowing five runs in four innings. Given Baez's struggles, Walker is still likely to see the occasional save chance, as he did Wednesday, Aug. 15. Unfortunately, he blew that opportunity. He is available in around 90 percent of leagues polled as well. Fantasy owners should be prepared for little production from either player.
In single-year leagues, if you had Ray stashed on the DL, now would be a good time to drop him. As stated above, this procedure is not as risky as it was in the past, so he still has solid value in the long term, but don't expect him back any time soon.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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