Braves Baseball Report

Braves Face Tough Decision When Brandon Beachy Returns

Manager Fredi Gonzalez and GM Frank Wren face a tough decision when Brandon Beachy returns from his rehab assignment after Tommy John surgery.

How will they shuffle the pitching staff?

This was a hot topic a few weeks ago, as Beachy was scheduled to make his first start back during one of the two doubleheader games against the Mets, before he suffered a setback.  As you may recall, this allowed Alex Wood to make his first career start.

The good news is he’s beginning to make rehab starts again, actually pitching tonight in Gwinnett against Jair Jurrjens, and as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reports, will pitch three innings and/or between 45-55 pitches.

Before he underwent surgery last year, Beachy was by far the best starter on the team, if not one of the best starters in baseball. He had a dazzling 2.00 ERA in 81 innings and a K/9 of 7.59 as well a BB/9 of 3.22.

The Braves’ pitching hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination this year. According to CBS Sports, Atlanta ranks second in the NL in both ERA and Quality Starts, fourth in WHIP, and eighth in strikeouts.

There have been many bright spots for the pitching staff this year, such as the strong campaigns by both Julio Teheran and Mike Minor, and well as Luis Avalian stepping up to help fill the void from losing both Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty to Tommy John surgery.

However, this does not mean we could not use more help and Beachy would certainly provide it. The question then becomes, what roster moves would the Braves make to make room for him? I’m going to run down a few different scenarios and tell you which ones I favor over others.

 

Trade Paul Maholm

I can certainly see the logic here, as Maholm has pitched decent for the Braves this year (9-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), plus the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the year makes this case a very strong one.

But I wouldn’t want to see the Braves trade away one of their starters. After dealing Randall Delgaldo and a handful of prospects for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson this offseason, our pitching depth is a little low and if we were to trade Maholm and, God forbid, another one of our pitchers goes down, we would be in quite a bind.

I personally favor the option of moving someone in the starting rotation to the bullpen, that way he have a little insurance if we lose one of our starters to injury. If they do decide to trade Maholm I would like to see the Braves get an extra bench bat or a bullpen arm in return.

 

Move Tim Hudson to the bullpen

I understand the logic in this idea, Tim has pitched solid this year, just not the normal Hudson we are used to seeing.

I don’t think he would go for it. I love Hudson and I’m not trying to say he would stomp his feet, pout, throw a tantrum, but being the designated “ace” of the staff and the clubhouse leader, he is someone you keep in the rotation.

 

Move Kris Medlen to the bullpen

This is the idea I favor most. Medlen has been solid for the Braves as a starter this year, minus the 6-8 win-loss record, he has a 3.45 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP as well as a 6.73 K/9.

However, as mentioned before I do not favor the idea of trading one of our starters and our after having Venters and O’Flaherty go down. The bullpen needs as much extra help as it can get.

Also, pitching out of the bullpen is nothing new to Medlen. Last year when he first returned from Tommy John surgery, he pitched 54 innings out of the bullpen to a tune of a 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 36 strikeouts before going on a ridiculous tear before the end of the season.

This would also benefit the Braves very much in the way of having a starter in the bullpen who is capable of being the “long man” if a starter leaves a game early of if we have another marathon game, much like the one we had last night.

With all this being said, its crazy to think the Braves will just throw Beachy straight on the fire when he gets back. I assume he may pitch out of the bullpen for a few games then make a few spot starts (maybe six or seven days apart) before slotting him into the rotation full time.

If the return performances of Medlen and Strasburg last year are any indication Beachy should come back very strong and be able to help the Braves separate themselves even more from the Nats and Phillies in the division, and hopefully a deep playoff run in October.

 

This being my first ever post on this site, I’m going to go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Jackson Johnson and I am a 21-year old college student currently studying Economics. I was born in North Carolina, moved to Georgia when I was 13 and somehow found myself in Alabama for college. I have been lucky enough to live in Braves Country my whole life and I have been a diehard Braves fan ever since I can remember. I have been looking for an outlet to write about them for sometime now and I am thankful I stumbled upon Braves Baseball Report and that Chris gave me an opportunity to being writing. Other than baseball, I enjoy golf, cold beer, and scuba diving. You can follow me on Twietter @JacksonSJohnson for more thoughts on the Braves and life in general.