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Washington Nationals’ 2023 Bullpen: Tanner Rainey likely to miss most of ‘23…

Built up as a closer, Tanner Rainey got there, but a torn UCL ended his 2022 season…

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

In early September, Davey Martinez was asked if there was any update on reliever Tanner Rainey, who’d had Tommy John surgery a month earlier, after an up-and-down run for the right-hander in his fourth season in D.C.

Rainey’s 2022 season ended in early July, with a right elbow issue which eventually needed a surgical fix. He had the surgery in early August.

“It obviously stinks,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman in announcing the bad news on Rainey undergoing the procedure.

“It’s frustrating. He understands that he’s got a long road ahead of him, but he wants to get back as soon as possible.”

Through 20 games and 30 innings pitched this past season, Rainey, 29, had a 3.30 ERA, a 4.18 FIP, 13 walks (3.90 BB/9), 36 strikeouts (10.80 K/9), and a .228/.305/.386 line against, with 12 saves in 16 opportunities.

It was a blow for the reliever, obviously, who is expected to miss 12-18 months recovering from the surgery.

When Martinez spoke in September, he said Rainey (and reliever Sean Doolittle) were still with the team, “working on core strength, leg strength, all the things they can do, so that when they’re able to get ready to start doing their arm exercises and strengthening that they’re way ahead of the game, and nothing can slow them down then.” But that day for Rainey was still far away at that point, and with the timeframe for his recovery, the 2023 season will likely be (mostly) lost as well.

In his final appearance of the season, a two-inning outing against Atlanta on July 10th, the veteran reliever averaged 98.3 MPH on his four-seam fastball, which got up to 99.4 MPH, and overall on the year, Rainey averaged 97 MPH on the pitch, which he threw 70.4% of the time, with 29% sliders, and the occasional changeup (0.6%) mixed in.

A few days later, Martinez made the unfortunate announcement.

“We put him on the IL. He’s got a UCL sprain. He’s going to go see the doctor and we’ll get more information in the next couple days.”

“He said he felt something the day after he pitched,” Martinez explained.

“We told him just to kind of get some treatment, he wanted to see what it felt like the next day, it didn’t get any better, so we wanted to get him an MRI right away.”