April 17, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Eric O

Braves Bullpen Slowly Vanishing

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As you probably know the Braves put lefty Eric O’Flaherty on the 15 day DL with a tear of his UCL and called up Cory Rasmus from Gwinnett.  Tears like this almost always mean TJ surgery and a year of recovery. He joins Jonny Venters who had the surgery on Thursday, so I guess they won’t be lonely during rehab though EOF is a free agent after this season and the Braves my elect not to tender the injured pitcher a contract.

Jordan Walden was put on the 15 day DL (shoulder) Friday back dated to last Saturday so he may be back in a week or so. Luis Ayala (anxiety disorder), Cristhian Martinez (shoulder) are also  on DL. Wednesday the next logical replacement – hard throwing right hander  J.R. Graham – was sent to Atlanta to see a specialist due to shoulder inflammation, so our pitching is looking tissue thin at the moment. Asked about using six foot four righty Alex Wood to bolster the Braves bullpen GM Frank Wren used his Acme Spin Machine 2000 to toss out this answer.

“I don’t think we need to disrupt the development of players at this point. We’ll let them continue to develop and grow. He’s doing really well, but we’re not to the point where we think that would be advantageous to him or us.”

Fortunately I have my spin decoder here and that translates to: we don’t have any body ready for prime time yet. So what other options are there?

The GM also said quite rightly that there are few trades out there worth having but that doesn’t mean there isn’t movement. Today the Braves added lefty reliever Joe Beimel on a minor-league contract. Beimel last pitched in 2011 – he missed 2012 due to TJ surgery  – throwing 25 1/3 innings for the Pirates compiling a 5.33 ERA and a 1.697 WHIP. He had 6K/9, 3.20 BB/9  and a 2.1 HR/9 ratios. Those numbers likely reflect the soreness he had in his elbow prior to surgery.

On Monday the Braves signed minor league free agent lefty reliever Juan Cedeno to a minor-league contract. The 29 year old lefty pitched for Triple-A Scranton in the Yankees organization in 2012 finishing with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in his 64 innings. He posted a 0/7 HR/9, an 8.02 K/9 and and a 2.95 BB/9 ratio . He made ten appearances throwing 11 innings this year for Scranton before being released. he’s had control issues since arriving and doesn’t look like an option.

Last Sunday the braves signed RHP Kameron Loe. Loe was released by the Cubs earlier in the week after putting up a 5.80 ERA and 1.920 WHIP for the Cubbies but I doubt he’s an option we’d use any time soon.

Leaving Miami

The Marlins continue to shed experienced pitchers in one way or another.  Earlier this week the Marlins released righty Jon Rauch – he of the gigantic frame and equally gigantic neck tattoo. This year Rauch had thrown 16 2/3 innings putting up a 7.56 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP, striking out 15 while walking seven and giving up one home run. The ERA is misleading as his FIP was just 3.37, such is the life of a Marlins pitcher this year.  About the same time David Aardsma (1-0, 2.57 ERA) exercised his option and ask for his release from the Marlins AAA team in New Orleans. Aardsma started the year with the Yankees but was DFA on April 4th and signed by the Fish.  Aardsma also had TJ surgery in 2012 and was working his way back. For New Orleans Aardsma had a 2.51 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in 14 innings striking out 12, walking 8 and giving up two home runs in the 14 hits allowed.  Prior to injury his hip and then his elbow Aardsma had been a pretty good reliever for the Mariners. Either of these guy might well fit in the Braves bullpen.

That’s A Wrap

Even though the GM says we’re not worried you can bet he’s working hard to fill the void in the Braves bullpen. We’ve seen already that Walden can be fragile and if Craig Kimbrel goes down it’s all over but the crying. On top of that our starters have not looked good of late. Some of that may have been road weariness but consider that our most consistent pitcher this year has been Mike Minor. I’m watching Kris Medlen look more like the Meds from last season against the Dodgers and Paul Maholm threw well last night as well. The Dodgers however are stumbling through at the moment and not a good gauge. Brandon Beachy’s return is imminent but how many innings we can expect is anyone’s guess.  Here’s hoping the remainder of our staff stays healthy and we find a way to shore up that bullpen soon.

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