The Braves bullpen took a hit on Saturday morning.
The Braves’ bullpen is going to be a strength of the team going into the 2022 season. While bullpen arms are an extremely volatile commodity (more on that in a second), the relief corps that Atlanta has put together with Kenley Jansen, Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, Collin McHugh, AJ Minter, and Luke Jackson (along with hopefully Kirby Yates later in the year) is one of the best groups in the entire league.
Unfortunately, if you are wanting to guess which type of player is the most volatile and injury-prone in the league, it would be bullpen arms. There are a lot of reasons for that and we won’t be diving into those here, but it remains a true axiom which is why it is so important to have depth. Case in point:
Medical Update on Luke Jackson: pic.twitter.com/vTgEOKCHE4
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 2, 2022
There were seasons in the Braves’ recent past where the lost of Luke for any amount of time would have been catastrophic. While he can be an adventure at times in his outings, he has largely been a productive reliever for the team since he joined the team back in 2017. Just last season, he posted a 1.98 ERA and 3.66 FIP with a 9.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 63.2 IP (71 appearances). Did he get lucky at times? Sure. Did Tyler Matzek have to bail him out in glorious fashion in the NLCS? Yep. However, none of that changes that Luke has given the Braves plenty of value for his services especially during those seasons when the bullpen was a full on dumpster fire.
Nevertheless, Luke wasn’t going to be counted on for a ton of high leverage innings this season for the Braves. It wouldn’t be shocking that even if he pitched a full season, that he ended up being the Braves’ sixth best reliever this season. That is a good problem to have and the Braves are fortunate that even if Luke is out for a while (we don’t know for sure the severity of the UCL damage just yet and if he can avoid Tommy John), the Braves are still in a good spot out of the bullpen.
One last note, Luke Jackson is a free agent after the 2022 season so if the injury is severe enough to cost him the season, it is entirely possible that we may not see him in a Braves uniform again.