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Braves face tough decision when Brandon Beachy returns

Jun 9, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

brandon beachy ap AP

Brandon Beachy hasn’t pitched since June 16 last season. He felt soreness in his right elbow and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season and significantly cutting into his 2013 hopes. Nearly a full year later, though, Beachy is nearing a return. He has made two rehab starts with Triple-A Gwinnett spanning nine innings, striking out 11 and walking six while surrendering three runs. He will make one more rehab start before being recalled to start one of the double-header games against the Mets on June 18.

As David O’Brien notes in a column posted earlier today, the Braves could use the 26th-man rule that allows teams to temporarily add an extra player for double-headers. However, that would only temporarily address the issue of finding room for Beachy in the rotation. It’s a decision that has Fredi Gonzalez pacing.

“I don’t know — that’s my honest-to-God answer,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday. “I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer right now. And I don’t want to say, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ because people think, ‘Fredi’s hoping somebody gets hurt.’ And I don’t want that. I want everybody to be pitching healthy and then we’ve got to come up with some kind of plan. But right now we don’t have a plan.”

O’Brien points out that the Brave rotation has been running on all cylinders, particularly as of late. Tim Hudson, the veteran of the staff but the worst-performing with a 4.48 ERA, has shown marked improvement in his most recent two starts. The other four have posted ERA’s under 3.50, including Mike Minor (2.52) and Kris Medlen (2.87), who have been ace-like.

An obvious solution would be to trade either Hudson or Paul Maholm, as both are eligible for free agency after the season. But doing so would require the Braves to have to rely on Beachy’s surgically-repaired elbow during an important post-season series, which would be a gamble right now.

Though somewhat stressful, having too many awesome pitchers is a wonderful problem to have for the 39-24 Braves, currently enjoying an 8.5-game first-place lead in the NL East.

  1. mvpolamalu - Jun 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    as well as he’s played, I think teherans gotta go back to triple a.

  2. arungupta27 - Jun 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Medlen’s been much better recently, but I dunno about “ace-like.” He has a 4.01 FIP, and his K% and BB% both have gotten worse since last year. It’s definitely going to be a tough decision though

  3. knowlegeforyou - Jun 9, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    Teheran is not going back to AAA. Better chance of Medlin going back to the BP

  4. jimtron11 - Jun 9, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Kris Medlen missed virtually the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John’s surgery and his career-high for innings pitched is only 138. Medlen is on pace to obliterate that mark (204.1 IPs). Moving him to the pen, at least temporarily until an injury, ineffectiveness or a trade opens up a spot in the rotation, would put him on track for a lesser innings total. Medlen’s spent most of his career as a reliever and the Braves pen, minus setup men Venters and O’Flaherty, could certainly use the help. Braves management will remain tight-lipped until they’re forced to show their hand but Medlen is on the bubble.

  5. brvesol - Jun 9, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    why not do with Beachy what they did with Medlen pitch him in relief the rest of this season to come back 100% next season when the other pitchers contracts are up!!

    • baseballici0us - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      because he’s on my fantasy team and that would be terrible for me :-)

  6. acgonzales - Jun 9, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Teheran isn’t going anywhere. He and Minor are the two best starters right now. The easy decision would be insert Beachy and switch Medlen back to the pen as an extended reliever so he can jump back into the rotation if an injury or trade occurs.

    You’re welcome, Fredi.

  7. mazblast - Jun 10, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    “But doing so would require the Braves to have to rely on Beachy’s surgically-repaired elbow during an important post-season series, which would be a gamble right now.”

    So you’re saying that the Braves have already clinched a post-season berth? Nice assumption there.

    I’m with brvesol on this–Put Beachy in the bullpen, maybe a spot start here or there. Give him some work every 3 days or so, let him build up his strength in non-pressure situations.

  8. sawxalicious - Jun 10, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    I agree with Mazblast. Ease Beachy in with relief appearances, long relief role…so many injuries these days a trade would be I’ll-advised if they’re trying to go all the way.. Lotsa teams have started out with a plethora of quality arms and been bitten badly by the injury bug. No such thing as too much good pitching. Plus the Braves bullpen has already been hit with injuries this year.

  9. dlf9 - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    I am not a scout and didn’t even sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night but … I happened to go to the Gwinnett game Saturday night when Beachy pitched against Columbus. The stat line looked pretty good, but his FB was sitting 88-91 on the stadium gun and he was working behind a lot of hitters. I think he could use a little more time to build arm strength before moving back down the road to Atlanta.

    By the way, in the Gwinnet game, I saw a two things that I’ve never seen before when attending a game. The first was a steal of second that turned into a run when the ball went into center and the baserunner advanced not just one but two bases. The second was the Clippers brining their LF in and playing with five infielders in the tenth with a runner on third. I’ve heard of both, but never saw either. Add in getting to see Beachy as well as heralded Columbus prospect Trevor Bauer, and it was a fortuitous outing.

  10. illegalblues - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    it’s been said, but the answer is easy. you put beachy in the pen this year and build his arm strength back like you did with medlen. move him to the rotation if there’s an injury.

  11. baseballici0us - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Six-man rotation until the all-star break wouldn’t hurt

  12. geoknows - Jun 10, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    So the Braves have made the playoffs already, huh? That must be the earliest a team has ever clinched in MLB history.

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