Padres lose hard-throwing setup man Andres Munoz to Tommy John surgery

The San Diego Padres have lost a key member of their rebuilt bullpen. Friday afternoon the Padres announced hard-throwing right-hander Andres Munoz has undergone Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2020 season. Righty pitching prospect Reggie Lawson had the surgery as well, the team announced.

Munoz, 21, was called up to San Diego’s bullpen last July and electric, striking out 30 batters in 23 innings. That earned him the eighth inning role behind All-Star closer Kirby Yates by the end of the season. Munoz is one of the hardest throwers in professional baseball — his fastball averaged 100.1 mph last season and topped out at 103.1 mph.

The Tommy John surgery is not entirely unexpected. Munoz has a history of arm problems — he threw a career high 58 2/3 innings last season, more than double his previous career high (26 in 2017) — and he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow in early 2018. Last year was the year he stayed healthy for more than a few weeks at a time.

Even without Munoz, the Padres figure to have one of the game’s best bullpens in 2020. FanGraphs projections have it as the second best bullpen in baseball (5.5 WAR) behind only the Yankees (5.9 WAR). This is what new manager Jayce Tingler’s relief crew now looks like without Munoz:

That still leaves righties Trey Wingenter and Gerardo Reyes, and lefty Jose Castillo, in Triple-A as depth. The Padres would be more dangerous with Munoz throwing gas in the middle innings, though they have the depth to withstand the injury. They’re loaded with power arms and can shuttle guys back and forth to the minors.

These days Tommy John surgery comes with a 14-16 month rehab timetable. That puts Munoz on track to rejoin the Padres at the 2021 All-Star Game or thereabouts. Tommy John surgeries typically peak in spring training as pitchers ramp up their throwing. This spring Tyler Beede, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, and Joey Wentz all required Tommy John surgery.

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