When Beachy returns, Braves face rotation question
Gonzalez won't roll out six starters, so one current member will exit
LOS ANGELES -- As Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell traveled to Dodger Stadium on Sunday morning, they discussed the difficult decision that awaits them when Brandon Beachy makes his expected return to the rotation on June 18, when he'll start one of the games in a doubleheader against the Mets.
If Beachy remains on schedule, the Braves can take advantage of the rule that allows teams to add one player to their roster on the day of a doubleheader. But this does not solve how Beachy will fit into a rotation that currently contains five effective starting pitchers.
"If you had to do it today, what would you do?" Gonzalez said. "We'll see what happens. We still have [nine days]. I know you all want answers, absolutes and all of that kind of stuff. But what do you do?"
Assuming all of the current members of the rotation remain healthy, the Braves will have to make an uncomfortable difficult decision. The presence of multiple off-days scheduled over the next couple of weeks has led Gonzalez to believe he will not go to a six-man rotation to accommodate Beachy.
But there is certainly not a clear-cut answer to this problem that most other clubs would like to have.
Since posting a 8.69 ERA in his final four starts of May, Tim Hudson has allowed one earned run in the 14 1/3 innings that have encompassed his past two starts. The mechanical issues that plagued Kris Medlen during this season's first six weeks have evaporated as he has not allowed an earned run in three of his past five starts.
Paul Maholm has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his past five starts. The Braves could explore options to trade the veteran southpaw, who will be a free agent at the end of this season. But a National League scout said the indication is that this would only happen if the Braves received a significant return.
Mike Minor, who has established himself as one of the game's top starters over the past 11 months, will certainly not lose his rotation spot. Nor is there much reason to believe the Braves will mess with Julio Teheran, who has compiled a 2.13 ERA in his past eight starts.
"I want everyone to be healthy and pitching good, then we have to come up with some kind of plan," Gonzalez said. "But right now, we don't have one. I don't know what the right answer is right now. We just have to wait and see."
Beachy allowed one run and four hits while completing five innings for Triple-A Gwinnett in a Minor League rehab start on Saturday. The right-hander is scheduled to make one more rehab start on Thursday to complete his return from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.