If Braves fans and fantasy-baseball participants are racking their brains trying to figure out how the Braves are going to fit Brandon Beachy into their starting rotation, team officials feel your pain. They are the ones who have to make the decision, which is shaping up as one of the most difficult of its kind in recent memory for the Braves. Beachy is a proven high-quality starter who appears fully recovered from reconstructive elbow surgery, but the current five-man rotation is on a roll and finally has all engines humming at once. Barring an unlikely move to a seldom-seen six-man starting rotation, the Braves have to move someone to the bullpen or make a trade, unless there’s an injury in the next week or two. “I don’t know — that’s my honest-to-God answer,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday. “I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer right now. And I don’t want to say, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ because people think, ‘Fredi’s hoping somebody gets hurt.’ And I don’t want that. I want everybody to be pitching healthy and then we’ve got to come up with some kind of plan. But right now we don’t have a plan.” In Beachy’s next-to-last scheduled rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Gwinnett, the right-hander had eight strikeouts in five innings and allowed four hits, one run (on a homer) and three walks in 94 pitches. Braves reports said he had “pretty good” stuff, including fastballs at 89-94 mph, sliders at 84, and some good curveball and changeups. Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell discussed the situation Sunday morning on the way to Dodger Stadium from the team hotel in Pasadena. “We’re waiting to make sure nothing happens,” Gonzalez said. “Roger and I were saying, if we had to do it today, what would you do? We’ll see what happens. We’ve still got another two weeks, more or less. So, I don’t know. I know you all want answers and absolutes, but…” But there is not an easy one right now. Beachy is scheduled to start one of the games in the split doubleheader against the Mets. The Braves could use the 26th-man rule that allows teams to add a player to the major league roster specifically for doubleheaders, but that would be only a temporary solution to the starting-rotation dilemma. “Will see how we go (with the decision) when we see how pitching does between now and then,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. If Beachy, who had a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts last season before “Tommy John” surgery, is added to the rotation, who gets bumped? There is no obvious answer, since all five current starters have pitched well for at least the past two starts (Tim Hudson) and much longer in the other cases. Left-hander Mike Minor has become the staff ace and one of the top pitchers in the National League since last summer. Safe to say the left-hander is not going anywhere for the forseeable future.
As Beachy nears return, Braves face difficult decision
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Jun 10