If there’s good news for the Brewers’ Justin Topa, it’s that he likely won’t need another elbow surgery.
But the bad news is the team’s medical staff is still recommending rest and rehab that would keep the righty out at least half of the 2021 season.
Justin Topa has been diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Brewers are recommending rehab, but still expect Topa to miss at least half of the season. Topa is exercising his right to a second opinion.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 29, 2021
Topa was pulled from action over the weekend when he experienced some discomfort in his twice-surgically-repaired pitching elbow.
While Topa is seeking a second opinion on his elbow, the odds of him missing a large chunk of the season seem to be working against him. It’s a tough blow for a guy who fought through a lot to make his MLB debut at age 29 and figured to be an important part of the Brewers’ bullpen with a sizzling fastball and a wipeout slider. He had struggled this spring, though, allowing 9 runs (8 earned) on 13 hits in just 5.2 innings over 7 appearances — perhaps a sign something wasn’t quite right.
Topa’s absence opens another spot in the Brewers’ Opening Day bullpen, and later in the day, Drew Rasmussen was told he had made the roster — although most probably figured that would be the case. Topa’s injury likely means more for someone like Brad Boxberger, who was released and re-signed on a minor league contract in the last week, but would need to be added to the 40-man roster.
Tom Haudricourt says other contenders for that last spot in the bullpen include Ray Black and Wisconsin native J.P. Feyereisen.
Rasmussen is added to #Brewers bullpen that we know includes Hader, Williams, Suter, Yardley and Lindblom. That's six. We're expecting a seven-man bullpen at the outset. That leaves Black, Feyereisen and Boxberger for one spot. Black out of options. Boxberger not on 40-man.— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 30, 2021
Given the fact Boxberger would need to be added to the 40-man and Ray Black is out of options — and the fact that other teams may be releasing guys who could be useful in this spot — this may not be a decision that’s made until right before Opening Day.