The Red Sox have announced that relief pitcher Carson Smith will undergo Tommy John Surgery today, ending his season, and likely leaving him out of action into 2017.
It's hard to say this really comes as a surprise given how Smith's injury saga has progressed. Originally shut down in spring training for what seemed like a fairly minor issue, Smith did not make his way back into action until May. The Red Sox used him sparingly, and the results were positive, but behind the scenes he was still dealing with lingering soreness, leading the Red Sox to place him on the disabled list once again and get an MRI to make sure there were no larger problems being missed.
Apparently, those scans brought some very bad news.
Smith, 26, was brought over from Seattle in the Wade Miley deal, and was supposed to be the final piece in a dominant bullpen quartet along with Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa. Now that unit will have to survive without its youngest, most flexible piece.
The good news for the Red Sox is that said unit has performed just fine without Smith. Dave Dombrowski pushed pretty heavily to put together a strong relief corps for this 2016 Red Sox team, and so far as a unit they've produced a 3.12 ERA that's actually deceptively high. Aside from Smith, Six of the seven relievers the Red Sox have settled into using have ERAs under 3.00, with Koji Uehara the only one above that line at 3.71. Craig Kimbrel has held opposing batters to a .383 OPS in his last 17 appearances dating back to April 13, Junichi Tazawa has been more-or-less untouchable, and the middle-innings guys in Hembree, Ross, Layne, and Barnes have all been surprisingly good. We know this is a unit that can excel even without Smith, because it's been doing just that for more than a quarter of the season.
The good news for Smith is that Tommy John Surgery is not quite as scary as it once was. It's a major setback, and will leave him on the shelf for a long while. But as so many others have shown, it's entirely possible--likely, even--that Smith will be as good as new when he returns.
But those are silver linings on an unfortunate situation indeed. Get well soon, Smith. There'll be a place for you in Boston when you get back.