By Matt Snyder
A hip injury has had Mariners incumbent closer David Aardsma on the disabled list for the entirety of the 2011 season, but he is in danger of having much bigger issues. He had been shut down with forearm soreness and an MRI revealed that he has a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar-collateral ligament. (Geoff Baker via Twitter) To put it in layman's terms, he has a partially torn elbow ligament -- specifically the ligament that requires Tommy John surgery to repair.
Aardsma is reportedly seeking a second opinion, so his season isn't yet over, but it's certainly in jeopardy. Recovery from Tommy John surgery generally requires 12-18 months of rehab and if the ligament is torn that's the procedure he'll need.
Aardsma, 29, never recorded a save in his career until 2009 in Seattle. In 2009-2010, Aardsma saved 69 games with a 2.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 121 innings. He was expected to be the closer for the 2011 season, but instead Brandon League has taken over the role.
League has converted all nine of his save chances, though he was knocked around and took the loss last time out. He's got a 3.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings.
The Mariners could certainly use Aardsma in the bullpen, whether as the setup man for League or as the closer -- as the 4.28 bullpen ERA isn't great -- but that doesn't seem like a realistic possibility now.
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