Monday afternoon, Sportsnets Arden Zwelling tweeted out that Kirby Yates, who was presumed to be the closer in 2021 for the Toronto Blue Jays, will miss multiple weeks with a flexor-pronator strain in his right arm.
The injury typically requires rest, physical therapy and possible corticosteroid injections before a gradual return to throwing. What it means is that Yates will likely be out at least 4-6 weeks before re-joining the Blue Jays in a best case scenario. This a devastating news for the Blue Jays as Yates was hoping to bounce back from an injury filled 2020 season.
Yates missed almost the entirety of the 2020 season with bone chips in his right elbow that required surgery. From 2018-2019, Yates was one of the top bullpen arms in all of baseball and led the National League in saves in 2019 with 41 while posting a 1.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP.
This past January, Yates signed a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with the Blue Jays to be the closer on the team that had a hole after the club did not re-sign Ken Giles after he had Tommy John surgery. Yates had appeared in two games this spring and most recently on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies where he pitched a clean inning striking out two.
There is an old term that states ‘Bad Things Happen in Threes’ and this could be what is happening to the Blue Jays as Nate Pearson had a setback in his groin injury, and Thomas Hatch went down with a right elbow injury over the last week. The last update on Hatch is that he was dealing with elbow inflammation and there is no timetable for his return.
The club will now lean on Rafael Dolis or Jordan Romano to step into the hole that will be left to close out games. Dolis finished second on the Blue Jays last year in both saves (5) and pitching appearances (24) while posting a minuscule 1.50 ERA. He has made just three appearances thus far in Spring Training surrendering one run over 2.2 IP. Romano was a pleasant surprise last year and was performing quite well before being lost for a lengthy period to an injury. Romano posted a 1.23 ERA over 14.2 innings striking out 21 batters last year.