ARLINGTON, Texas — As the Orioles prepare for a critical Game 3 in the American League Division Series, a key part of their 2023 success underwent a career-altering surgery in the same Texas city.

Félix Bautista, the Orioles’ All-Star closer, had Tommy John reconstructive surgery on Monday, the Orioles announced. It was performed by Dr. Keith Meister.

The recovery time is typically 12 to 15 months. Bautista is expected to miss all of the 2024 season and return in 2025. The Orioles have already agreed to terms with him through the 2025 season, ensuring he does not have to worry about a contract while recovering.

Bautista injured his elbow in August and was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He tried to rehab it in hopes of returning for the 2023 postseason and progressed all the way to facing live hitters before the Orioles decided to shut him down. Bautista returning this season was a “pipe dream,” general manager Mike Elias said, but, because it wouldn’t do any additional damage to his elbow, it was worth a try.

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Bautista — who broke out last season after a decade in the minor leagues — had a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves this season. Without him available, the Orioles have relied on Yennier Cano, Tyler Wells and Cionel Pérez in the ninth inning.

The Orioles, down by two games to the Rangers in the best-of-five American League Division Series, haven’t had a save situation in either of their postseason games yet. Bautista’s absence, though, has still been felt.

Manager Brandon Hyde has had to alter his bullpen’s usage. Pérez, for example, was used in the ninth inning of a one-run game on Saturday. If Bautista was available, Pérez would have been used in an earlier inning, which could have altered the impact of the game.

danielle.allentuck@thebaltimorebanner.com

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College. 

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