The Braves expect to have Brandon Beachy back on the major league club on June 18th. If Beachy were playing second base, center field, or right field, then this return would have more impact. As it is, Brandon Beachy is returning as pitcher. The question is where will he go? The Braves have their five starters penciled in and have not shown any signs of demoting one. Here are the only three scenarios that I see plausible.
1) This is the most plausible way I see the Braves utilizing Beachy’s arm, which is in the bullpen. After Kris Medlen underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2010, the Braves eased him back into their rotation by working him out of the bullpen during the first half of the season. The results work well with Medlen, that I could see Beachy taking a similar route. This would be extremely beneficial to the bullpen, who has lost the likes of Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty to Tommy John Surgery earlier this year. Beachy would give the Braves an established arm to set-up for Kimbrel in the eighth, all the while working up his arm strength. The Braves have shown no signs of doing this however.
2) Another move they could do is move Kris Medlen back to the bullpen. It’s weird to think that a guy who hasn’t struggled much this year (despite what his 1-6 record dictates) would move back to the bullpen; however, he is the most logical. Mike Minor has turned into the staff ace, while Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm are veteran starters, who are entrenched in the rotation for the time being. Even young Julio Teheran has been performed well in his last seven starts. Those four, in my opinion, are locks for the rotation. Kris Meden should be, but his bullpen experience in the past and his low peripherals may subject him to setting up Kimbrel. I think Medlen is great, but not as good as he was last year. I would still stick with him in the starting rotation and let Beachy work his way back up. The Braves, again, have not shown their cards in this manner either.
3) What are the chances that the Braves work a six-man rotation? It could happen, but I don’t think it will, unless the sixth man also acts like a swing-man. I could see this happening, with Medlen turning into a Terry Mullholland-esque pitcher for the rest of the season. In games when they need a large amount of innings from a pitcher, Medlen (or whomever) would just come out of the bullpen and have their next start skipped. I do not know how this would affect a pitcher’s psychi though. I would think that pitchers would like to know what their role is without having to worry about when they will pitch next. I don’t think this will happen, but it’s a scenario the Braves could use.
As I said above, I think the first scenario is the most likely. I don’t know how Beachy’s arm wil react, as everyone goes through Tommy John differently. I do know that he will have a role on the major league club, however. I don’t foresee a scenario in which they leave him in AAA to recover some arm strength, when the bullpen on the big league club has become a weakness.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
That’s right! The Braves will miss Kershaw AGAIN this week!
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) June 3, 2013
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