Orioles GM Mike Elias made official on Saturday afternoon what anyone could have feared for a while. Félix Bautista will be getting Tommy John surgery in October. He will miss this year’s postseason and the entirety of the 2024 season due to the partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).
According to Elias, the Orioles had been attempting to see if Bautista could rehab the partial tear enough to be able to pitch for the team during this postseason. Elias said that there was always going to be a necessity for Tommy John surgery. It was just a question of if Bautista could help the team in October. The month of building up the throwing progression that culminated in a sim game earlier this week was not positive enough for the team to attempt that. So, surgery it is.
In terms of the timing on the baseball season calendar, there was not a whole lot of harm in the Orioles trying to get Bautista to be able to pitch in October. The difference between his getting surgery on September 7 or October 7 (or whatever day of the month) is not something that should have a whole lot of impact on the next time he’s able to take the mound for the team.
Bautista was always going to miss the 2024 season regardless and spring training 2025 was always going to be the target date to have him back. That will be 17 months or so after his surgery.
It’s a long time from now and quite a while that the Orioles will have to figure out a different plan at closer. His 2023 dominance that was cut short by the UCL tear is certainly a big part of why the Orioles are the American League East champions. They are big shoes to fill, literally and metaphorically, for the man who has been dubbed The Mountain.
Between last year and this year, Bautista’s 121 games with the Orioles have seen him strike out 198 batters in 126.2 innings. He has a 1.85 ERA for his career with a 0.929 WHIP. The strikeout rate went to an even higher level in 2023, as he had a K/9 of 16.2 and struck out nearly half of batters faced. Batters were hitting just .142 against Bautista this year. The stuff was ridiculous and so were the results.