Ervine There is no such thing as too much pitching. The Atlanta Braves are the most recent Major League team to discover that old adage’s truth.
A day after 23-year-old right-hander Kris Medlen was plagued with elbow tightness on Monday, 24-year-old right-hander Brandon Beachy departed an outing with discomfort in his shoulder and forearm. Medlen and Beachy are expected to serve integral roles in the Braves rotation.
On Tuesday, the Braves announced that an MRI showed ulnar collateral ligament damage in Medlen’s right elbow. Later this week, Medlen is scheduled to be examined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed Tommy John surgery on him in 2010.
An obscure 10th round selection out of Santa Ana (Calif.) College in 2006, Medlen posted a 10-1 record and a 1.57 ERA in 50 appearances (including 12 starts) for the Braves in 2012. He logged a 15-12 record and a 3.11 ERA in 31 starts (32 outings overall) and 197 innings last season.
Beachy, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012 following an encouraging 2011 campaign that produced a 7-3 record and a 3.68 ERA in 25 starts, was limited to five starts last year once he returned to the club’s rotation 13 months after the procedure.
The Braves are understandably concerned about Medlen and Beachy, and they have been linked this week to veteran free agent right-hander Ervin Santana, who remains on the market and will cost a draft pick to sign.
Considered a contender in the National League East if their starting pitching is healthy, the Braves now face the possibility of opening the 2014 campaign with three-fifths of their projected starting rotation on the disabled list with Medlen, Beachy and Mike Minor.
Veteran Gavin Floyd, who was signed to a free agent deal in the offseason, is trying to rebound from elbow reconstruction surgery and is not expected to be ready until May at the earliest. A pair of 23-year-old arms – right-hander Julio Teheran, who was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA as a rookie last season; and Alex Wood, an impressive but raw left-hander who has a 0.75 ERA in seven big league appearances – will likely open the regular season in the rotation.
Veteran non-roster right-hander Freddy Garcia and unproven 26-year-old Princeton product David Hale are candidates to fill rotation spots. With the lack of starting pitching depth, the Braves are a strong potential destination for Santana. Also, the club will surely be scouring the trade market and waiver wire for starting pitchers.