Mar 5, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Brandon Beachy (37) warms up in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Brighthouse Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Injury News: Beachy, Medlen...what? Ervin Santana?

For the second day in a row, one of the Braves starting pitchers has failed to complete his scheduled innings.

Brandon Beachy went two innings today vs. Philadelphia, and while his outing was decent (2 hits, 2 walks, but no runs allowed), he exited due to bicep tightness.  Multiple reports suggest that he felt this during his last outing and was advised that he could probably “pitch through it.”  No dice:  his comments in the clubhouse indicated that the muscle grew tighter as he went along, so he opted (rightly, of course) to shut it down today.  This is evidently the cause of his reduced velocity during the final inning of his last start, a parameter that was repeated today.

It’s very difficult to suggest how this injury will go, though Beachy himself said that his surgically-repaired ligament was “fine” – this was something completely different.  So on the scale of pitching injuries, this one has to rank as “not so serious.”  Nonetheless, I would expect that he will be shut down for perhaps the next month or so, which now leaves a gaping hole in the Braves’ rotation as we sit exactly three weeks from opening day.

 

What About Medlen?

We don’t know yet.  And we might not for a while longer, either:

 

 

Hate to sound like a Debbie Downer on this, but for all the reasons suggested yesterday, I am personally pessimistic on this pending report.  There certainly isn’t any “buzz” of optimism coming from any quarter right now.

 

So is Anything Happening?

On the pitching front, there’s a “yes” and a “maybe” answer.

  • Yes.  The Braves have acquired AAA pitcher Zach Stewart from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for “cash considerations.”  Stewart is 27, and was a 3rd round pick of the Reds back in 2008.  He moved up the ladder quickly, reaching AAA in 2009, but then stalled.  He was part of a deal that sent Scott Rolen to Cincy for Edwin Encarnacion in 2009.  That move seemed to kill his career for some reason, as his ERAs suddenly jumped from around 1.00-1.50 to 3.50 and higher… much higher.  He threw 167 innings for the WSox in 2013, posting a 4.25 ERA.  Hard to say what the change was that stifled his progress, but he’s certainly bounced around since 2009.  The White Sox picked him up in 2011 as part of a deadline-deal trade sending Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahan to Toronto while Stewart and Jason Frasor came the other way.  Jackson was then flipped by Toronto to St. Louis in the Colby Rasmus deal.  Chicago actually took Stewart back in 2013 after having dealt him to the Red Sox to get Kevin Youkilis in 2012.

Stewart will be used at Gwinnett for AAA depth purposes while this pitching apocalypse unfolds down in Orlando – extent of which still to be determined.  But clearly, support is needed to make up for these losses.  And that leads to this…

 

  • Maybe.  Let me quote this exactly:

 

 

As suggested yesterday, this could be a fit for Atlanta – money considerations aside.  Here’s the reasons:

  • While Santana has been streaky in his career, he’s also motivated to show that he’s worth a big contract… the kind of contract he wanted and hasn’t received this off-season.
  • He has thus recently tempered his demands for 4 years, and something over $50 million, and has opened the door to a ‘Qualfying Offer Re-do’ of perhaps a single year, $14-ish million contract.  Reports indicate that he has such an offer from the Blue Jays, and something close to that from the Orioles.
  • Coming to Atlanta would mean pitching in the National League for the first time.  Pitchers making that transition often throw better (half to 3/4ths of a run better) in coming from the AL.
  • It is very likely that Atlanta would be open to the idea of a single-year commitment.  At this point, you might even say “no matter what it costs.”
  • While it would cost Atlanta “only” money, signing Ervin Santana would cost them their first round draft pick – 26th overall.  The Braves do have a 32nd pick in hand – compensation for the loss of Brian McCannThey could get that lost pick “back”, in effect, in 2015 by making a Qualifying Offer to Santana as he bolts for the door after this season ends.

Regardless, it’s now certainly in Santana’s best interests to wait out the Kris Medlen diagnosis.  Having another bidder in the process can only make him richer, frankly.  But while this is a bad situation for Atlanta, having Santana out there and available at least gives an option that’s clearly better than any/all internal options.  Right now, options are exactly what’s needed.

 

Is there any good news?

Yeah – the Braves are beating up on Philadelphia.  As I type this, they’re going to the 9th inning in Clearwater with an 8-1 lead.  The damage has come early and often, with 3 runs scored on Cliff Lee, 3 on Mario Hollands, and five runs on Jonathan Papelbon.  That’s always a good thing.

On the hitting side, the Braves have homers from Jason Heyward, and Dan UgglaBoth of them literally left the yard.  Doubles have come from Gerald Laird and Tommy La Stella.  It’s been a good day on the field… well, other than that.

 

More to come later as we learn more.  Stay tuned.

Material for these reports were compiled from multiple industry tweets, including Jon Paul Morosi (FOX Sports), Mark Bowman (mlb.com), Dan Hayes (CSNChicago.com), ESPN.com archives, and David O’Brien (AJC).

Tags: Atlanta Braves Brandon Beachy Ervin Santana Kris Medlen

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