Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, there is much more to worry about than seven losses in the last eight games, as on Monday night, Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that ace starter and baseball’s ERA leader Brandon Beachy’s MRI results were in, and the news is bleak. The MRI revealed a partial tear in a ligament in Beachy’s pitching elbow. The Braves have not decided on a course of action just yet as they wait on a second opinion, but Dr. James Andrews’ name has been thrown around already, so the prognosis can’t be great. Ultimately, Beachy will probably have to have Tommy John surgery, meaning he will be lost for the season and the Braves will have to try to fill a gigantic hole in their rotation. The only good news for the Braves, if you want to call it that, is that they are deep in starting pitching. Atlanta has a few options for replacing Beachy as they move forward.
The Present: Jair Jurrjens
One question has already been answered for the Braves, and that is that Jair Jurrjens WILL start this Friday in place of Beachy in Boston. This is by no means a permanent solution for the Braves however. Anyone who has followed baseball this season has probably at least heard of Jair’s terrible season that landed him in AAA. The reason Jurrjens’ call-up comes as a bit of a surprise is that he really wasn’t that impressive in Gwinnett. His 5.27 ERA includes three outings where he failed to make it through five innings. In each of those three outings he posted an ERA of at least 11.57. That being said, he went at least six innings in each of his other six starts while allowing more than 2 runs just one time. The most promising statistic for J.J. is his BB/9 of just under 2, while many members of the organization are concerned with his sub 5 K’s/9.
It is no secret that Jair was discontented with the Braves’ organization after they sent long-man and former starter Kris Medlen down to AAA to potentially join the rotation. Personally, I believe that the Braves are calling him up to either get back their potential ace or shut him up about his complaints, which is really not that smart with the rate at which Atlanta is losing ground in the N.L. East. Though that is all speculation, I do know that if Jurrjens does not improve upon his 9.37 ERA in his previous Major League starts this season, he’ll find himself right back in the minors.
The Best Solution: Kris Medlen
A few weeks ago it was announced that Kris Medlen was going to be sent to Gwinnett to stretch his arm out to join the starting rotation. This correlated with the struggles of Mike Minor and Randall Delgado. However, after Livan Hernandez botched Julio Teheran’s spot start, he was DFA’d and Medlen was recalled to take Livan’s spot as the long man. Ultimately, this makes absolutely zero sense because Medlen was dominant in 2010 before he required surgery, and Mike Minor has not shown very much since Spring Training. However, now that Medlen is nice and stretched out, it would make a lot of sense that if Jair Jurrjens struggles, he would be the next guy on the totem pole to step in to the rotation. Personally, I think Medlen is the closest guy that the Braves can get to replicating Beachy’s numbers, but we’ll have to give Jurrjens a shot first, it appears.
The Future: Julio Teheran
Teheran is widely considered the top prospect in the Atlanta organization and is viewed as one of the best young pitching prospects to date. It’s only a matter of time before a guy with this much prestige gets a crack at the bigs, which Teheran has had in spot starts. On the outside, his 3.24 ERA looks pretty good, but look deeper and there are concerns about Julio. Longevity seems to be a struggle for Teheran, as he’s averaging less than 5 innings per-start. This season Teheran has one start already, where he gave up four runs in just 4 1/3 innings. However, Teheran got himself into a jam in the fifth inning and Fredi was too quick to pull him. Of his four runs allowed, three were inherited runners from Livan Hernandez, who lost his job because of that outing. Teheran is a good pitcher who is going to get an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues very soon, but depending on the Braves’ determination to keep Medlen in the pen and the success of Jurrjens, it could be later rather than sooner.
In the Pen: Todd Redmond
Not a lot has been heard of Todd Redmond, but he’s made a splash in AAA this season posting a 3.20 ERA with 67 Ks in 76 IP. Not to mention, he earned himself his first shutout of the season a couple of days ago, which earned him a call to the show when Beachy was placed on the 15-day DL. All of that being said, he probably will not get his shot unless the Braves are not confident in Teheran, Jurrjens, or Medlen.
The Long Shot: Sean Gilmartin
Gilmartin is a guy that I’ve liked a lot since seeing him play in the Braves’ Futures vs. All-Stars game in Gwinnett before the start of the season. He’s continued to impress in Mississippi with a 3.17 ERA while going less than six innings only twice in his last ten starts, and posting three complete games on the season. It seems like Gilmartin is just waiting on a roster spot to open up to get his AAA opportunity. Don’t expect him to jump Gwinnett unless something catastrophic happens, but he’s someone that will be worth watching for the next couple of years.
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