Braves’ Matzek has Tommy John surgery, out 12-18 months

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Tyler Matzek throws to the Washington Nationals during the ninth...
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Tyler Matzek throws to the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Washington. The Braves won 8-2. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)(Jess Rapfogel | AP)
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 3:30 PM EDT
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(AP) - Braves reliever Tyler Matzek had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will be sidelined for 12 to 18 months.

Manager Brian Snitker said the 31-year-old left-hander went to Texas to be evaluated and learned that he had a torn elbow ligament. Atlanta left Matzek off the postseason roster because of elbow discomfort.

“I hate it for him,” Snitker said before Game 2 of the NL Division Series against Philadelphia. “He struggled with things all year. Maybe this is the reason, and I think him going ahead and starting the process, I think he feels pretty good about that. Now he can go through his rehab and on the back end of that he’s still a young man and can have a really good career.”

Matzek, who spent time in May and June on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, went 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA this season, striking out 36 in 43 2/3 innings. He was a vital part of the postseason bullpen last year when the Braves won the World Series, appearing in each of Atlanta’s first eight games. That tied the major league record held by Jesse Orosco, Wade Davis and Greg Holland for consecutive outings to open a postseason.

Matzek struck out 11 batters with runners in scoring position, tied with Atlanta’s John Rocker in 1999 for the most by a reliever in a single postseason. One of Matzek’s best moments came with runners on second and third and a two-run lead in the seventh inning of the decisive Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. He struck out Albert Pujols, Steven Souza Jr. and Mookie Betts to get out of the jam.

Before 2020, Matzek had not pitched in the majors since 2015 with Colorado.

The Rockies drafted him 11th overall in 2009. He went 8-12 with a 4.09 ERA in two seasons with Colorado before getting a case of the yips and struggling to find the strike zone. He was out of baseball in 2017 and pitched in the independent American Association in 2018 before spending the next year pitching across three levels of the minor leagues.

Matzek is 8-9 with a 2.92 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 135 2/3 innings in three seasons with Atlanta.