Braves Starter Paul Maholm Bullpen Bound?

Maholm Braves

Could Maholm move to the bullpen when Beachy returns?

Brandon Beachy made his first rehab start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday, and is on track to join the Braves rotation in the middle of June.  Beachy gave up two runs on four hits in his first appearance against live competition, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was pleased with his performance.

When Beachy comes back, the Braves will have six starters, and it will be very interesting to see what move or moves the Braves make to accommodate everyone.

With rookie Julio Teheran pitching extremely well his last half-dozen starts, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Teheran will be sent down to Gwinnett, when Beachy comes off the disabled list.

So who will be the odd man out in the Braves rotation and what will they do with him?

Paul Maholm’s contract expires after the season, and he will be looking for a multi-year deal in the $10 to $12 million range.  It is highly unlikely that the Atlanta Braves can resign Maholm due to financial constraints.  So a Maholm trade is a real possibility.

But the Braves aren’t going to give a valuable commodity like Paul Maholm away cheap, and solid trades don’t just materialize out of thin air.

So why not have Paul Maholm shore up the injury depleted bullpen?

With left-handed relieving stalwarts Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty having undergone Tommy John surgery, the Braves are short two left-handed arms in the bullpen.  There aren’t any strong solutions at Triple-A Gwinnett, either.

Maholm to the bullpen makes sense, although selling the bullpen to Paul Maholm and his agent would most likely be a challenge.  It would be a risky move for a pure lefty starter in his contract year to assume bullpen duty.

If the Braves were a middle of the pack team, it is doubtful that Paul Maholm and his agent would buy into bullpen duty.  But with a team like the Braves looking like they have a legitimate chance to advance deep into the playoffs, it could happen.

  • Bob Long

    In the NL East, where the Braves play, it is worthwhile to have as many lefties as possible on your pitching staff. The Nationals and Phillies have lefties that can hit game-changers unless the Braves can pound them with lefties. These left-handed hitters aren’t as successful aginst left handed pitchers as they are against right-handed pitchers (looking at you, Ryan Howard!).
    Taking Maholm out of the starting pitcher position will expose our right-handed pitchers to left-handed batters that rake (Hello, Bryce Harper!).
    No, I still believe Brandon Beachy will be placed in the bullpen to build arm strength and refine his command. The only alternative would be to move Medlin to the ‘pen, to which he has been accustomed.

    • Jim Hart

      We agree that the Braves could use another lefty but they don’t grow on trees. The Braves problem is that with the Venters and O’Flaherty surgeries all the other teams know the Braves are a little desperate and that will drive the price higher. You could be right about Beachy beinig placed in the bullpen but there is nothing that I have read (I read a lot of Braves) and nothing I’ve heard around the stadium indicates that Beachy will be placed in the bullpen. If that was the Braves intention, why would they keep it a secret? There’s no reason they would keep it a secret and that isn’t how Fredi Gonzalez does business. When Tim Hudson came back from the same injury he didn’t start in the bullpen, why would Beachy start in the bullpen? Beachy was your #1 starter last season, one of the best starters in all of baseball. Doesn’t make sense, Bob. But baseball can be a strange game so we’ll see. If you are right, I will never hear the end of it. :)

      • Bob Long

        Since you replied to me, it seems more people are getting on the “Beachy to the bullpen” bandwagon.
        Talking chop had a 2 part article with Alex Cora, former player turned “analyst”. Cora suggested Beachy to the bullpen, just as they did with Medlin last year.
        Tomahawk Chop had an article today about Beachy’s return. Where do you yhink he will fit into the Braves’ plan? The bullpen, of course.
        So, you see, I’m not alone in this line of reasoning.
        Only time will tell.
        BTW, I’m not a “I told you so” kinda guy. And, I’m glad you’re not either, Dan Uggla is making me lose faith in human kind!

        • Jim Hart

          The difference between Medlen and Beachy is that Medlen had pitched bullpen duty a lot in his career. I don’t believe Beachy has pitched any bullpen duty. Tim Hudson didn’t pitch any bullpen duty when he came back from TJ so why should Beachy? When all 6 of your starters are healthy, Maholm is your 6th best starter, right? So why keep him in the rotation when he can go to the pen and get you a few outs when needed against a lefty hitter? Left-handed hitters are batting .138 against Maholm this season. And I don’t want to send Medlen to the pen again, either. His ERA is the second best in baseball since last year’s All-Star break and he will be one of your starters next year, too. I don’t want to jerk him around and take him out of this year’s rhythm and potentially screw him up the rest of the season. I need him in September and I need him in the playoffs to pitch well. I don’t know what Fredi will do but to me this is a “no brainer.”

          • Bob Long

            I’m afraid that you misunderstand me. This is what I envision:
            Beachy returns to the Braves and builds his command from the bullpen until the trade deadline. At the deadline, Maholm and Reed Johnson (possibly Juan Francisco, as well) are traded, opening a spot for Beachy. That would be the reason to keep Maholm in the rotation, you don’t want to decrease his value. The trade fetches a bullpen arm (lefty, naturally) and a minor leaguer or two. The Braves insert Beachy into the starting rotation, thus minimizing his appearances to approximately 14 or 15 starts at 6 innings each or 90 to 100 innings plus the 15 or so innings from the bullpen.
            As far as Huddy not pitching any bullpen innings when he returned from TJ surgery, Huddy had been around for over 10 years. Beachy doesn’t have 2 full seasons in the bigs, so the comparison isn’t equal.
            Of course, the way Hudson has been pitching, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on the DL with a mystery ailment, although I hope not.

  • Ryan Mcdaniel

    After the sucess of Medlin last year coming out of the pen, the Braves would be fools to not do the same thing with Beechy. Especially this year when the really need the help down there.

  • Paul M.

    Hudson to the bull pen. Joe may call him the Ace but, he isn’t.
    Hey Freddie, did you really expect to win with Saturday’s lineup?
    Let’s get a second baseman. Two years below 200 isn’t a slump.

  • Jim Hart

    Ryan, why would the Braves need Beachy in the bullpen more than Maholm? Maholm is a lefty, that is what the Braves need in the bullpen. They have plenty of right-handed relievers. Medlen started in the bullpen at the beginning of the year and pitched there half a season. So different scenario than with Beachy. From all reports, Beachy will be ready physically to assume a normal starter’s workload when he returns.

  • RogerH

    There’s another option not being considered. Why not go with a six man rotation and any one of the starters would then be the long man after four days rest. That way you can keep a short pen. Avilan and Wood are both great leftys to have. The starters having extra rest could be big later in the year and no one gets screwed. The other best option is to put Beachy in the pen like they did with Medlen until after the trade deadline. I really like Maholm, always have, but I do think it’s logical to go ahead and trade him at the deadline. Unfortunately, it makes more sense to package him with Francisco in a blockbuster for a top infield (2B, 3B) prospect or two or three. Then Wood could actually fill in for Maholm until Beachy is ready to start. But I also disagree that Maholm is the 6th best starter – that honor belongs to Huddy right now. The big paradox is that some of the team’s best players are playing the worst (Huddy, Heyward, BUpton).

    • Jim Hart

      Roger, you have some unique ideas. I’m not sure we will ever see them implemented but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t bring desired results. It will be interesting to see what Frank Wren does before the trade deadline. He’s got a lot of talent on the roster and is deep at multiple positions. So if he wants to make moves, he can do it from strength.