Frank Wren picked up Gavin Floyd as a free-agent pickup this offseason. What should Braves fans expect from Floyd?
Who is he?
Floyd was a very high draft pick originally with the Philadelphia Phillies, who picked him 4th overall in the 2001 draft out of high school. Floyd had the type of body you could definitely dream on with a 6’6″ wide shoulder/hip frame that could hold 225-250 pounds and look fairly lean, so you can imagine lots of power in his pitching going forward when he was drafted. Floyd was traded to the Chicago White Sox in 2006 with Gio Gonzalez (yes, that Gio Gonzalez) for Freddie Garcia after 3 seasons bouncing back and forth between AAA and the back of the rotation. Floyd wasn’t able to establish control of his 4-pitch repertoire until he broke through in 2007 in AAA for the White Sox and put together arguably his best season in his first full season in 2008, going 17-8 while throwing 206 1/3 innings with a 119 ERA+. Floyd put together a nice 5-year run starting with that 2008 season of being a solid inning-eater ground-ball pitcher that sat very well in the middle or back of the rotation and kept the bullpen rested. His performance wasn’t overwhelming, but while playing in home run hitter’s haven Cellular Field in Chicago, Floyd averaged only 1.0 HR/9 during his five-year run.
What about this injury?
In 2012, Floyd began experiencing elbow discomfort. He ended up only making 29 starts and wasn’t able to get as deep into games. April 27th of 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Floyd felt something give and came out of the game. He was discovered to have torn his flexor muscle near his right elbow, and while undergoing surgery for that, he had his UCL repaired due to damage found when investigating the elbow. Normal recovery for a UCL tear is 14-19 months, which would put Floyd out for the entirety of the 2014 season, but there are no confirmations that he had a full tear in the UCL, and even have been some rumors that he could be full strength from the flexor muscle surgery as early as May (usually a 12-month recovery) and back on the mound. I’m no doctor (they don’t even let me play one on TV anymore), but May seems extremely optimistic. Based on the type of pitcher Floyd is and his most likely time frame for return, I could see Floyd returning in June/July and offering the staff much what Paul Maholm did in 2012, a steady inning-eating influence that really doesn’t blow anyone away, but gets the job done.
What to expect in 2014?
I would have much preferred a 2-year deal to sign Floyd, but Frank Wren seems to have been ensuring rotation depth in September and October more than seeking someone to fill a rotation spot for the entire season. I could see Floyd being anything from the #3 inning-eating rotation cog that helps keep the young guns fresh for the postseason and is key to a long postseason run all the way to a guy who won’t pitch at all in 2014. If he pitches, I foresee him making in the range of 12 starts with 65-70 innings thrown with a mid- to high-3 ERA and 1.2-1.25 WHIP and lots of chances for Andrelton to flash some leather on his ground ball-inducing cutters.
Floyd won’t be ready by spring, but you can be by getting your Atlanta Braves spring training tickets here.