Atlanta Braves veteran Paul Maholm will most likely be ready to start games at the major league level in the next 10 to 14 days, give or take a few days.
If something doesn’t happen with the Braves current starters between now and then, Maholm’s return will give the Braves six starters. At the rate that Braves players have been injured this season, you half expect something may happen, although hopefully everyone will stay healthy.
With the acquisition of Scott Downs, the Braves are not desperate to have a second lefty in the bullpen, so I don’t expect Maholm or Wood to go to the ‘pen for the rest of the season.
When deciding who to keep, it will come down to Maholm and 22-year old rookie Alex Wood. Wood has made the choice difficult for the Braves, with the way he has pitched. His cumulative stats on the season are 45.1 innings pitched, 2.78 ERA, 14 BBs, 48 Ks. He has only given up 1 home run in those 45.1 innings!
In Wood’s last 3 starts he has been brilliant (he has made 4 starts total) he’s pitched 19 innings (7,6 and 6) and given up only 10 hits, 4 walks and struck out 17.
Best case scenario would be for Maholm to make a couple of quality showcase starts, to let the rest of the league know he is healthy so he can be traded. It would be best for Maholm since he is in the last year of his contract and it would be best for the Braves as they don’t need Maholm.
The first question will be, how do the Braves make room for Maholm, if no one is injured, between now and the time he returns? The second question, how will the Braves work Maholm into the rotation?
To answer the first question, it wouldn’t surprise me if Maholm doesn’t return until September 1 when roster expand. Even if he is ready before then. That way the Braves won’t have to make any moves with their current pitching staff.
To answer the second question, I think the Braves could afford to slip Maholm into the rotation a couple of times around the horn. A six man starting rotation isn’t great for very long, but it may actually be beneficial in September to give the staff an extra day rest on a couple of their turns.
To answer the question posed in the title as to whether Alex Wood may be optioned when Maholm returns… are you crazy?