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Angels’ Keynan Middleton to undergo UCL reconstruction surgery

The Angels’ closer will miss the rest of the 2018 season after suffering a UCL tear.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Angels closer Keynan Middleton will undergo UCL reconstruction surgery, per a club announcement on Thursday night:

The fact that the Angels aren’t uttering the dreaded “TJ” words here would seem to leave open the possibility that Middleton could have the “primary repair” surgery brought to the mainstream by Cardinals physician George Paletta and performed on pitchers such as Seth Maness and Jordan Schaefer, during which the existing ligament is repaired and the recovery process is shortened. However, Middleton told reporters, including the Orange County Register’s Jeff Fletcher, that he’s planning on having Tommy John surgery, during which the existing elbow ligament is replaced with a new one. Either way, he’ll miss the rest of the 2018 season and likely return during the middle of the 2019 campaign.

Middleton, 24, hit the DL for the second time this season on Monday after experiencing renewed pain in his pitching elbow. He missed 10 days earlier this month after he initially dealt with elbow inflammation.

Middleton had six saves while posting a 2.04 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 16 appearances this season. The hard-throwing right-hander is just the latest pitcher to tear his UCL after relying heavily on his fastball and consistently throwing in the upper 90s — his average fastball velocity was 95.6 MPH.

During the time that Middleton has been on the DL, no Angels pitcher has recorded more than one save. Veteran Jim Johnson — who has a ton of prior closing experience — as well as Cam Bedrosian, Blake Wood, and Blake Parker, would seem to be options to take over ninth-inning duties moving forward.