Braves lefthander Ray Kerr will undergo Tommy John surgery

Reliever Ray Kerr during the June 15 Braves-Rays game at Truist Park. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)



Reliever Ray Kerr during the June 15 Braves-Rays game at Truist Park. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

ST. LOUIS – The Braves’ pitching depth has taken a hit.

On Monday, the Braves announced they placed Ray Kerr on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury, effective June 16, while voiding his option to Triple-A Gwinnett on June 15. Braves manager Brian Snitker said Kerr will need Tommy John surgery.

Kerr never pitched in Triple A after the Braves sent him down. The left-hander complained about his elbow after the Braves optioned him, Snitker said.

“I just feel bad because he was getting a good opportunity here and impressed a lot of people,” Snitker said. “He’ll be back stronger than ever. That’s the thing: Those guys, they get that tune-up like that and they end up extending their careers a lot of times. It’s so common (now) in the industry that it’s just almost, like, inevitable. It seems like it’s just one of the things you ask: ‘Has he had it yet?’

“He’s got a good work ethic and is determined, dedicated. He’ll come back well.”

Tommy John surgery is used to repair damage to the UCL in the elbow. The typical recovery timeline is 12 to 18 months, which means Kerr could miss the majority, if not all, of next season.

And to be clear: The Braves “voiding” Kerr’s option means he’s not a minor-league player in this instance. He’s on their major-league injured list.

In 10 appearances – two of them starts – Kerr posted a 5.64 ERA over 22 1/3 innings. The lefty, who has good stuff, showed promise. When he joined the big-league team, he looked to be another terrific acquisition. (The Braves got him from San Diego in a trade.)

Kerr allowed three earned runs across 9 1/3 frames over his first four outings, all out of the bullpen. Then the Braves decided to give him an opportunity to start. It didn’t go well, as he surrendered eight earned runs over 7 2/3 innings in two starts – one against the Pirates, the other versus the Nationals.

On June 15, his final appearance before Atlanta optioned him, Kerr allowed a run on two hits, with three walks, in an inning.

Kerr served as depth for Atlanta, which has used a lot of it over this first half of the season. The Braves have other arms, like Grant Holmes and Daysbel Hernández, but Kerr seemed to be slightly ahead of them in the organizational depth chart in terms of how many opportunities he received early in the year.

The Braves have been hit hard by elbow injuries this year. They aren’t alone, as many teams are dealing with this.

The most prominent one: Spencer Strider underwent a season-ending internal brace procedure to repair his damaged UCL.

Huascar Ynoa, who entered spring training hoping to make an impact this year in his return from Tommy John surgery, is on the 60-day injured list with a right elbow stress reaction. He hasn’t pitched since April 14.

Tyler Matzek, also coming off Tommy John, has been on the injured list since early May due to left elbow inflammation.

Owen Murphy, a top pitching prospect, was set to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Hurston Waldrep recently went on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, though Snitker indicated this wasn’t a serious injury.

Again: Every club is dealing with its fair share of elbow injuries. It’s a problem throughout the game right now.

Kerr is the latest pitcher to require Tommy John surgery.