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Loss of O'Flaherty another blow to Braves

A strength going into the season, the Atlanta bullpen is now very much a concern.

Eric O'Flaherty, diagnosed with an ulnar collateral ligament tear on Saturday, is likely headed to Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery two days after the Braves lost fellow left-hander Jonny Venters for the same reason.

O'Flaherty allowed an eighth-inning homer in the Braves' 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night and experienced elbow discomfort in the process.

An MRI revealed the tear on Saturday and O'Flaherty got the bad news that he needs to head over to see Dr. James Andrews, who performed a second Tommy John surgery Thursday on Venters in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

To take O'Flaherty's place in the bullpen, the Braves promoted 25-year-old right-hander Cory Rasmus from Class AAA Gwinnett.

Rasmus, the younger brother of Toronto outfielder Cody Rasmus, had a 0.93 ERA and was 7-for-7 in save opportunities over 19 appearances with Gwinnett. But he has no major league experience and the Braves no longer have a bridge from their starters to closer Craig Kimbrel.

In addition to the loss of O'Flaherty and Venters for the season, the Braves are also temporarily without Jordan Walden. The right-hander was placed on the disabled list Friday, retroaction to May 12, because of shoulder inflammation.

Walden, acquired from the Angels over the winter, is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in 14 appearances, recording 16 strikeouts to three walks in 13 innings.

O'Flaherty had appeared in 278 games for the Braves going into this season, posting a 1.95 ERA. The 28-year-old was 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 appearances this season.

The loss of Venters and O'Flaherty leaves Luis Avilan as the Braves' only left-hander in the bullpen. He will now have to assume a larger role, as will right-handers Cory Gearrin and Anthony Varvaro.