Rockies reliever Tyler Kinley has been diagnosed with an elbow strain and a flexor tear in his forearm, manager Bud Black told reporters (including Danielle Allentuck of the Colorado Springs Gazette). He’ll undergo surgery and is likely to miss at least the rest of the 2022 season.
The nature of the procedure isn’t yet clear, as it seems the extent of the damage will be determined once he goes under the knife. A full Tommy John surgery is still on the table, but it’s also possible the injury isn’t quite severe enough to demand a complete reconstruction. Kinley will be facing a long-term absence in any event, but the hope is certainly to avoid Tommy John — which would cost him most or all of next season as well.
It’s the end of what had been shaping up as a career-best season for Kinley. Through 25 appearances, the right-hander posted a sparkling 0.75 ERA while striking out 27% of opposing hitters through 24 innings. He certainly wasn’t going to keep runs off the board at that pace all season, but Kinley generated swinging strikes at an excellent 16.7% clip and looked amidst a genuine breakout. Black had entrusted him with higher-leverage work, and he’d already matched last season’s personal high with 10 holds.
Kinley’s elbow issue will unfortunately bring that to an end, and it’s at least possible he’s thrown his final pitch as a Rockie. The 31-year-old agreed to a $1.025MM salary to avoid arbitration this past offseason, and he’s slated to go through that process twice more before reaching free agency after the 2024 campaign. Kinley’s stellar first couple months will earn him a bit of a raise if he’s tendered a contract, although he’d have certainly found himself in better financial position had he stayed healthy and continued to perform all season.
If Kinley’s able to return relatively early next season, then it seems likely the Rox would keep him around given his modest price point. Yet if the procedure will keep him out for the majority or all of 2023, it’s possible they let him go and reallocate his salary and spot on the 40-man roster. Kinley will assuredly be transferred to the 60-day injured list to free a 40-man spot during the season, but he’ll have to be reinstated shortly after the conclusion of the World Series.