The back of the bullpen has been one of the Braves greatest strengths in recent years; all of a sudden it’s a point of concern.

The Braves learned Saturday that top setup man Eric O’Flaherty has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, just two days after another top left-handed reliever Jonny Venters underwent season-ending surgery for the same problem.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said an MRI taken Saturday revealed a tear in O’Flaherty’s left (pitching) elbow, and he was headed to see noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Tears of this nature almost always mean ligament-transplant surgery and at least a 12-month recovery, though Wren said the Braves won’t know for sure until he sees Andrews.

“Until we take the next step, we’ll wait and see,” Wren said. “Obviously you’re hoping that it’s just a sprain and a short DL stint, and you can come back fairly quickly. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.”

O’Flaherty complained of soreness after pitching an inning Friday night against the Dodgers. He threw 13 pitches in the eighth, giving up a solo home run to Scott Van Slyke in an 8-5 win. O’Flaherty had gone 52 appearances from June 8 of last year to April 29 without allowing a home run, while putting up a 0.76 ERA. He has allowed two home runs in his past seven appearances.

The Braves placed O’Flaherty on the disabled list Saturday and recalled Cory Rasmus from Triple-A Gwinnett. O’Flaherty was examined Saturday by Braves team orthopedist Dr. Gary Lourie.

“He’s had some tenderness, but not anything abnormal,” Wren said. “But last night after he threw – actually after we all left – I got a call when I was halfway home, that he came back in after starting to do his postgame workout, that he had some abnormal soreness.”

If anybody knows how O’Flaherty feels it’s Kris Medlen, who like Tim Hudson and Beachy, have all undergone “Tommy John” surgery in recent years.

“He was walking around bummed, just like all of us,” Medlen said. “But we’ve got a lot of guys on this team who’ve gone through that and he’s going to be fine.”

The Braves entered the season with O’Flaherty, Venters and Jordan Walden projected as their top three set-up men behind closer Craig Kimbrel. All three have had health-related problems revealed in the past three days.