The calling card of the successful Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990s was build on a strong pitching staff. While Atlanta’s makeup has largely changed over the years, the starting rotation is still the key to the team’s ability to compete in an increasingly challenging NL East. Atlanta may lose one of its best starters for the remainder of the season, a loss that could hurt their chances of winning the division.
The Braves were forced to pull Brandon Beachy from his latest start after just 3.2 innings on Saturday with discomfort in his elbow. Sunday they placed him on the 15-day disabled list. Monday night they learned he had a partial tear in the UCL in his right elbow. According to ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume, Beachy is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.
In just his third season in the Majors, Beachy has quickly emerged as the Ace of the Braves pitching staff and one of the better pitchers in the National League. Even with the short outing on Saturday, his 2.00 ERA leads the league and was more than a run better than any other pitcher on the Braves roster outside of Craig Kimbrel.
In the interim, it would appear that Jair Jurrjens will return to the rotation to fill the void being left by Beachy. Jurrjens was once just as highly touted in Atlanta as Beachy may be now, but he struggled in the second half of the 2011 season and was dreadful in his first few starts of 2012. Since being sent down to Triple-A in late April he’s 3-4 with a 5.27 ERA in nine starts.
Should Beachy need to undergo Tommy John Surgery (which seems likely) he will miss at least 12 months, meaning Braves fans may not see him on the mound again until just before the 2013 All Star Break.