ST. PETERSBURG -- Luiz Gohara still has the capability to establish himself as one of baseball's best young starting pitchers. But when he walked into Tropicana Field sporting a more slender frame on Tuesday afternoon, the left-hander was prepared to take his turn as the latest short-term addition to the
ST. PETERSBURG -- Luiz Gohara still has the capability to establish himself as one of baseball's best young starting pitchers. But when he walked into Tropicana Field sporting a more slender frame on Tuesday afternoon, the left-hander was prepared to take his turn as the latest short-term addition to the Braves' bullpen.
Given all that he has endured emotionally and physically over the past few months, Gohara was simply happy to be back at the Major League level. The 21-year-old hurler was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to provide some depth to Atlanta's bullpen as a long relief option.
"We look at him long term as a starter," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We're not developing him as a reliever. But at this time, he's a guy who can give us length."
Essentially, once the Braves were forced to use Lucas Sims for 3 2/3 innings on Saturday, Gohara stood as the best option to fill the long relief role. Matt Wisler had pitched that night and Max Fried was not yet eligible to be recalled. Aaron Blair was slated to be part of this carousel of long relievers who transition from Atlanta's bullpen to Gwinnett's pitching staff, but he is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery.
The Braves wanted to put Gohara -- the club's No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- in the bullpen for Sunday's game against the Giants. But because 10 days hadn't passed since he had been optioned to Gwinnett, the Braves called upon Luke Jackson, who on Tuesday, was designated for assignment for the second time this season.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Instead of continuing to give opportunities to the likes of Jackson and Miguel Socolovich, the Braves want to lean on the more competitive options they have in the form of Wisler, Sims, Fried and now Gohara.
So Gohara will likely stick around at least until he makes a multi-inning appearance and is deemed unavailable for the next few days that follow. At that point, he'll likely return to Gwinnett's rotation.
"I've kept bad things behind me and just kept moving forward," Gohara said. "I want to come up here again and help the team."
This has been a rough five-month stretch for Gohara. His father died in his arms as they raced to a hospital near their Brazilian hometown in December. Around that same time, his mother developed a serious heart condition that has continued to cause concern.
Gohara's preseason preparations were limited and he has since had to deal with the consequences. The hurler missed essentially all of Spring Training while dealing with a strained groin and then a sprained left ankle. He has since allowed 18 runs -- 12 earned -- and 22 hits (five home runs) while recording 15 strikeouts and issuing 10 walks over the 15 2/3 innings totaled within four combined starts for Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett.
This is certainly not what Gohara anticipated when he enhanced his stock while making five starts after making his Major League debut in September. He completed at least six innings in each of those final four starts and proved to have one of the strongest arms among all left-handed starting pitchers.
"We saw how good he was last year," Snitker said. "He looks like he's in good shape compared to what he was in [Spring Training]. So, we'll run him out there and see."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.