The Atlanta Braves have an off-day today as they prepare to meet the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Friday. Nonetheless, it is a very important day for their pitching staff. How so?
Today is Opening Day – for the minor league squads. Two of these clubs are scheduled to have “ringers” pitching for them:
Gavin Floyd drew the short straw and gets the tougher rehab assignment: he’s with Gwinnett tonight, and will be facing the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays affiliate). This is still shocking to me, given that he is now 11 months post-op from his Tommy John-plus surgery. Given what we’ve seen over the past month, I can only shake my head at this schedule for him, but … well, ultimately it’s his arm.
Mike Minor is still just rounding into shape after a slow start and then soreness on top of that. He is set to pitch for the M-Braves against the Mobile Bay Bears in Pearl, MS tonight. The Bay Bears are part of the Arizona Diamondbacks system. But this game may not happen tonight: strong storms are coming through Arkansas (especially) and northern Mississippi this afternoon and evening, so at this point, I’d had to think that this one stands a high likelihood of being pushed back a day.
We’ll been watching for both performances of these guys, as it is clear that the Braves are in need of viable, reliable, healthy options for the rotation. Both are key pieces of the plan going forward.
Here is the full slate of minor league games that are set for tonight as their respective seasons begin:
Gwinnett Braves – AAA International League: open at the Durham Bulls, 6:05pm EDT.
Mississippi Braves – AA Southern League: open vs. the Mobile Bay Bears at home, 7:00pm CDT (weather permitting).
Lynchburg Hillcats – High-A Carolina League: open vs. the Frederick Keys at home, 6:05pm EDT. Top prospect Lucas Sims gets that start tonight. The Keys are a Baltimore Orioles affiliate.
Rome Braves – Lower-A Sally (South Atlantic) League: open at the Hagerstown Suns, 6:35pm EDT. The Suns are part of the Washington Nationals system.