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Astros Kent Emanuel Out For the Rest of 2021 With Elbow Surgery

Another Bump in the Road for Emanuel

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

After trying to avoid surgery by rehabbing and taking injections, Kent Emanuel couldn’t deal with the pain any longer.

Kent Emanuel was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2013 Draft in the 3rd round with a lot of promise. However, he did not make his major league debut until the 2021 season as he watched many younger pitchers leapfrog him to the big leagues. Before the COVID-19 shortened 60 game season, Emanuel was suspended for testing positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is a performance-enhancing substance that he denies using to this day.

He was suspended for 80 games, so as soon as that suspension was over, he was called up by the Astros, and he asked to wear number 0. The number of games he felt that he should have been suspended.

He went on to pitch 8 ⅔ innings in his big league debut on April 24, 2021, in relief of Jake Odorizzi. He instantly became a fan favorite because of his struggles to reach the big leagues dealing with injuries and the suspension. He finally got his chance to shine in the big leagues. After that appearance, he joined the Locked On Astros podcast on YouTube.

At the time, there were some who wanted to see Emanuel enter the rotation with the number of starters who were injured, but Dusty Baker saw him more as a reliever. But then it seemed like Baker did not see him as a high-leverage reliever, so Emanuel was used very sparingly, only appearing in nine games since his debut. Overall, his stats looked good, with a 2.55 ERA in 17 ⅔ innings with a 0.91 WHIP. His BABIP (.174) was way below his minor league career numbers, and his lowest season was .250. Granted, 10 games is a small sample size.

The Tenth Appearance!

Let’s talk about that tenth game, when he came in on May 25th, versus the Dodgers. We all remember that game when Emanuel came in and threw four straight balls. Catcher Martin Maldonado motioned to the dugout immediately after the at-bat, and Emanuel was removed from the game with elbow discomfort. Maldonado mentioned that he was concerned because Emanuel didn’t throw any strikes when he was warming up either, which raised some concerns for him.

Today via Emanuel’s Instagram, we may have got some insight into Emanuel wasn’t used as often. “Over the last couple of weeks, I have seen my performance start to wane. We have realized it’s not just a matter of dealing with arm pain anymore. I will be getting surgery to fix my UCL” - Kent Emanuel. He also mentioned that he tore his UCL at the beginning of 2020 and decided to avoid surgery. Instead he tried “rehab with PRP and BMAC injections.”

Emanuel used the word ‘repair’ and not ‘reconstruction’ when talking about his surgery, meaning he is not having the dreaded Tommy John surgery. He is hoping that won’t be needed, but they will find out once they go in for surgery. This information is via Mark Berman’s tweet.

Could this have been why Baker was hesitant to use Emanuel at times? We may not know unless Baker addresses it after today’s game. Emanuel is already a 28-year-old rookie. Losing a full 12 months plus would be another big setback for his career. He showed some promise this year in his brief stint with the Astros. Hopefully, this is a shorter recovery.