The Atlanta Braves starting pitching rotation was predictable the first three months of the season. Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran, in that order, were rolled out against opponents from day one.
While the bullpen and other positions on the team were in flux due to injuries and inconsistent performances, the starting rotation was rock solid and predictable.
But times have changed for the Braves’ starting rotation and we are now in a position to speculate about what is going to happen as the season moves forward. Calm, placid waters, have been replaced by turmoil.
We all knew that at some point Brandon Beachy would probably return, we just didn’t know when. The question always was, who would he bump out of the starting rotation. The conventional wisdom was that Paul Maholm would be traded, due to his contract, to make room for Beachy.
Maholm left Saturday’s game with a wrist injury and that now muddies the waters. Will the Braves be able to trade Maholm before the deadline if he misses a couple starts? If he misses a start, will the Braves have to showcase him at least one start before the deadline, so teams can see that he is healthy? If they are unable to trade him, will Maholm move to the bullpen?
It was a surprise move when Alex Wood started in Gwinnett last Thursday night. At the time, it appeared he was optioned out to make room for Jose Constanza, to cover the outfield injuries. He had pitched 3+ innings on Friday night and wouldn’t have been available to pitch Saturday and Sunday before the All-Star break.
What we hear is that the Braves are “stretching him out” at Gwinnett so that Wood can start. But whose spot would he take in the rotation? Is he insurance if Beachy has another setback? Are the Braves looking to move two starters out of the rotation? Medlen is 1-2 in July with a 7.63 ERA and has given up 26 hits in only 15.1 innings. Could Medlen be headed to the bullpen?
Kameron Loe was called up from Gwinnett Sunday to apparently add the seventh arm to the bullpen. But could he make a start or two or more? He started four games at Gwinnett and was effective, posting a 1.80 ERA. Loe is an experienced starter, having made 47 starts in his nine-year major league career.
The Braves starting rotation may have been stable and predictable the first three months of the season, but times have changed. What scenarios do you think will play out in the next few weeks with the Braves’ starting rotation?