Texas Rangers: Jonathan Hernandez’ injury is brutal news for bullpen

Seth Carlson
Sep 23, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Jonathan Hernandez against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Jonathan Hernandez against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Texas Rangers were dealt a tough blow on Tuesday.

GM Chris Young announced Tuesday in a Zoom call with the media that the young, flame-throwing righty Jonathan Hernandez was diagnosed with what’s being called a “UCL Sprain”.

Losing Jonathan Hernandez will be a massive blow to the Texas Rangers’ bullpen.

Hernandez, turning 25 this season, will be shut down for at least four weeks as he looks to make a recovery.

UCL injuries, regardless of the severity, are bad news for any pitcher and organization, as any damage to that ligament in the elbow often serves as a precursor to the dreaded Tommy John operation, which can keep pitchers sidelined for over 12 months.

This is particularly brutal news for Hernandez, who made his MLB debut in 2019 and broke out in 2020, pitching to a 2.90 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 1.03 WHIP to pair with a K/9 rate of 9.0 over 31 relief innings during the pandemic-shortened, 60-game campaign.

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Hernandez was easily one of the Texas Rangers’ best relievers in a 2020 season that offered few bright spots within the pitching department for the team.

His presence and late-inning reliability will be sorely missed to begin the 2021 season.

Fortunately, the Rangers have surprisingly sound organizational depth when it comes to relievers, with names like Jose Leclerc, Brett Martin, Ian Kennedy, Joely Rodriguez, Brett de Geus, NRI Hunter Wood and others that manager Chris Woodward can rely on for late-inning duties.

In a piece of silver lining from this ominous news, Texas doesn’t believe that the 24-year-old Hernandez will need surgery to repair his sprained UCL immediately, though it’s important to recognize that pitchers with UCL damage need to be extra careful with their rehab, as further damage can lead to the aforementioned Tommy John surgery.

Additionally, Chris Young has expressed that he is “hopeful and optimistic” that Hernandez will in fact return at some point in 2021.

For a team like the Rangers that is expected to struggle enough as it is in 2021, there’s no conceivable way to spin this Hernandez news in a positive light.

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It’s time for next man up, though, and Texas has the in-house depth to manage, even if it won’t quite match what Hernandez brings to the table.

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