In 2014, the Atlanta Braves need Brandon Beachy to be brilliant! Okay, I’ll admit that rather puny alliteration might be pushing it a touch. Beachy doesn’t exactly have to be brilliant, but it’s certainly important that Beachy get back to form sooner rather than later, especially with the loss of Tim Hudson‘s leadership and presence.
So, when I read Mark Bowman’s recent article on MLB.com, about Brandon Beachy, Craig Kimbrel, and Lucas Sims showing up last Monday at Turner Field to participate in the first day of the club’s voluntary early throwing program, I was excited about the possibilities for Beachy this year.
Fans all across Braves’ Country were excited last season when Brandon Beachy returned to the mound some 13 months after having Tommy John surgery on June 21, 2012. On July 29, 2013, Beachy returned to the mound, replacing Tim Hudson, who suffered a season ending ankle fracture.
The hope was that Brandon would quickly return to the kind of form that led him in 2011 to be the Braves 5th starter, record his first big league win throwing six scoreless innings against the Dodgers, and set a new career high with 11 Ks against the Blue Jays in June of that year. He also threw his first career shutout against the Miami Marlins the following year in 2012, and before suffering a tear in the UCL of his right elbow, Beachy led all starting pitchers in MLB with a 2.00 ERA!
Unfortunately, Beachy’s return to the mound just 13 months after TJ surgery, some argue, may have been a touch too quick. After just five starts, the inflammation in Beachy’s elbow was too much for the young pitcher, and he was once again DL’d to have some cleanup work done on the right elbow by Dr. James Andrews.
Andrews has given every indication that Beachy would be completely healthy by the start of the Spring, 2014 pre-season. As Mark Bowman indicated, with Beachy showing up Monday for the voluntary, early throwing program at Turner field, it appears all systems are go for Brandon! That’s wonderful news for him, the team, and fans, and the hope remains strong that Beachy can return to form as soon as possible and have no further setbacks.
Beachy may not need to be exactly brilliant, but it is important that he be good, and get over that proverbial hump all pitchers face after undergoing TJ surgery. It usually takes awhile to get the butterflies out of the system, and regain a level of comfort on the mound, but with questions looming about how truly tested Alex Wood has been, Beachy’s performance could be key to the Braves rotation success. Atlanta has done a good job shoring up that potential success by adding Gavin Floyd and bringing back Freddy Garcia, but I guarantee the Braves are putting as much hope in the success of Beachy as fans are.
As our own Benjamin Chase indicated in his 2014 projection piece for Beachy, Brandon may not get back to complete form in 2014 and be the same pitcher we saw in 2011-12, but I hope to at least see Brandon make good strides toward being a key starter in the Braves’ rotation, and sooner rather than later. It’s rare that any starter coming off TJ surgery gets back to form quickly, but if Beachy is indeed fully healthy, then sooner can’t come soon enough.
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