ATLANTA -- The Braves received the news they were expecting on Wednesday when they learned Brandon Beachy will need to undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Now, they can only hope that he resumes this season's success when he returns around this time next year.
After evaluating the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in Beachy's elbow on Wednesday, Dr. James Andrews determined the Braves pitcher would not be able to avoid surgery. Andrews will oversee the surgical procedure on Thursday.
"It's tough," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "He was really doing everything that you can ask and growing as a pitcher and growing in stature as a guy you could count on to shut the other team down. So it's tough to lose him, and it's obviously tough for him."
This was shaping up to be a dream season for Beachy, who kept his Major League leading ERA below 2.00 until it reached that exact mark after his elbow forced him to exit Saturday's game against the Orioles after 3 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old pitcher retired each of the first 11 batters he faced and did not create any signs of concern until his velocity dipped with a two-out walk to Chris Davis.
The walk concluded the outing and season for Beachy, who has surpassed all expectations since being signed as an undrafted free agent out of a collegiate summer league in 2008. He will likely need 12 months of rehab following this surgery.
"It's never fun [to see], especially to a guy like Beachy, who is such a good guy," Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson said. "It's never fun to watch, because at any time I think we all know that could happen to one of us, too. I feel really bad for him. But you know how Beachy is. He'll work really hard to get back."
Because Beachy had been bothered by bone spurs in the past, the Braves were hoping this is what was causing the discomfort he felt during his June 8 start against the Blue Jays. This prompted them to give him three extra days of rest leading into Saturday's start against the Orioles.
But as Saturday's start progressed, Beachy started feeling discomfort in a different part of his elbow. By the time Wren was able to consult with his medical personnel after the game, there seemed to be an expectation that surgery would be necessary.
"The pain over the ligament really came up in the fourth inning the other night," Wren said. "All of the other times, it was in the back side of the elbow, which is where the spur is."
The Braves will promote Jair Jurrjens from Triple-A Gwinnett to begin filling Beachy's spot in the rotation on Friday night against the Red Sox. If Jurrjens shows flashes of the form that led to an All-Star selection last year, Wren and his staff might feel less inclined to find a starting pitcher before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
But if Jurrjens struggles like he did when he posted a 9.37 ERA in four April starts before being demoted, the Braves would be scrambling to find another option.
Jurrjens struggled through his early starts with Gwinnett. But since regaining some of the velocity he had displayed in the past and showing a little improvement with his command, he has realized some better results. The Curacao native's statistics were hurt on June 1 when he allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings after choosing to pitch with the flu.