Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy will undergo his second elbow surgery on Friday. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Beachy Facing TJ 2–The Unwelcome Sequel

The expected news came from California this morning confirming what most already knew, Brandon Beachy will have his second TJ surgery in just over two years


Beachy joins Kris Medlen on the TJ sequel list but unlike Medlen Beachy will have his operation done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers team physician according to O’Brien’s post for the AJC.  The Braves allow players to choose their surgeon for things like this and perhaps after Andrews had to go in and remove a bone chip last year decided a change was needed.

Sequels Seldom Successful

I wrote a while back about trusting surgically repaired arms and while the first TJ surgery has around a 90% rate for successful returns the sequel comes in at about 20% while a third is so rare that I can’t find any solid numbers . Add to that lack of success pitching mechanics that put excessive stress on his arm and Beachy’s odds get longer.  In an article for Sports Illustrated Cliff Corcoran summed it up pretty well

. . .(I found) 37 major league pitchers who have had multiple Tommy John surgeries prior to Parker and Medlen. Seven of those … after June 2012. . .That leaves a data sample of 30 pitchers . . .For (a starter’s return) to be  a success, however, they’d have to come back as starters, and. . . second on the list of most starts after a second Tommy John surgery is Hong-Chih Kuo, who made just 14 and had his greatest success as a left-handed reliever….(Starters)can find greater inspiration on the field than . . . as the man ahead of Kuo . . .(is) Chris Capuano . . (who has ) made 93 starts, 84 of them coming in the last three seasons

He goes on to say that unlike most of the other 2TJ pitchers Medlen and Beachy are young and not already in decline so they could change the paradigm.

Braves Rotation Status Quo

In spite of having an in jury riddled rotation and no high ceiling arms near ready for prime time, GM Frank Wren has said they are standing pat. Mike Minor will be back after tax day and Gavin Floyd is expected in May. If Floyd does make it back in May and sticks it will be at least two and possibly seven months ahead of schedule according to Sports Injury Alert.

But after undergoing surgery last May to repair tears to his ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon, his recovery time was expected to be between 14 and 19 months.

Floyd said all along he’d be back sooner and the Braves now need him to be on time.  Jonny Venters too says he’ll be ready by June and like Beachy his delivery casts a huge shadow over his chances of success.  In Venters favor is that relievers are more likely to have a successful comeback  after their second TJ; Brian Wilson’s recovery last year is the model

That’s A Wrap

I’m not optimistic Beachy  – or Medlen – will return before 2016 if then.  The push to shorten rehab time seems to me counterproductive but they didn’t ask me. Floyd’s durability also must be in question with the complexity of his multiple repair surgery.  On the upside David Hale  looks strong and If needed could easily slip into the fifth slot for about 140 innings  and if Ervin Santana does what he should do and Minor returns the rotation will be pretty good. That’s a lot of ifs and the way pitchers are getting injured this year – and in recent years come to that –  I suspect this won’t be the last pitching injury story we see this year.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

  • Bill Mixon

    Hales the man , the braves will be alright

    • fireboss

      I like Hale but he’s likely on an innings limit this year and his ceiling is back of the rotation. We will need more next year

  • BJ

    Fireboss what would you do

    • fireboss

      There are no easy answers or quick fixes, just strategies and being able to react to situations and opportunities this year and next off season. Fredi need to use his bullpen wisely too or he’ll burn out the bridge to Kimbrel trying to save his starters. He’s been better but still makes some odd decisions.
      Short term starting pitching really depends on all of the ifs – Floyd’s return date and health, Garcia’s luck, Hale’s continued success and how many innings he can pitch etc. This late it will be a patchwork based on the situation and who turns up available. It’s been reported that FW is still looking for pitching and I suspect he’d pull the trigger pretty quickly for an upgrade but there won’t be many out there.He’ll look for reclamation projects like the Ben Sheets experiment to fill gaps but those are hard to find. The Dodgers for example could shop pitching for bench strength if injury attacks them or teams that start badly and slip out of the race could make pitching available early but we aren’t the only ones looking and bidding. If the race stays tight like last year that won’t happen and the Braves will turn to arms like Schlosser, Martin and Northcraft and others who emerge to fill spots this year. Chris wrote here that he thinks Schlosser could start and he did have a good spring but his stuff doesn’t look like a long term starters, Northcraft hasn’t progressed as expected and I really have no feel for Martin. Our lack of near ready pitching makes next year problematic.
      Santana will be a free agent again as will Floyd and Garcia will be gone too leaving Minor Teheran Hale and Wood. Lucas Sims is optimistically two years away and Jason Hursh – a collegiate pitcher with a TJ already behind him – projects mid rotation and could be ready sooner. But the Braves really lack a top end arm in the system after Teheran so it seems realistic to look to trade for or sign one. As we saw that wasn’t easy this year and will be harder next but I’d try to be more aggressive in that, our lack of top level minor league prospects make that difficult and it call for creative thought. The addition of John Hart should help with that. If the Indians for example should unexpectedly collapse a Justin Masterson trade with extension would be a good move and worth burning multiple prospects on but I don;t expect anything like that.
      For the health of the starters I’d look to the Nolan Ryan, Leo Mazzone model – more throwing with a purpose not less – and I’d look again at pitcher mechanics and work on fixing those that look like they could be prone to elbow injury. I know they do that now but obviously it needs more attention.
      The addition to Hart to the brain trust seems to have made the front office more dynamic and it will have to be to succeed as the Braves move into their new stadium.