Beachy was bound to experience growing pains
Did you really think the baseball gods were going to allow Fredi Gonzalez to begin his tenure as Bobby Cox’s successor without having to endure the cruel initiation process that has unfolded over the past week. <p>
Just 10 days ago, you were preparing to watch Derek Lowe battle Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo and feeling pretty good about the fact that the Braves had won three of their first four. Heck they had even provided some drama the day before with a pair of eighth-inning solo homer off Takashi Saito.
While losing seven of their past nine games, they have struggled at the plate and seen both Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy give away winnable games. Minor proved he needs more seasoning while allowing Marco Estrada to beat him last week. Beachy provided similar signs last night as he struggled with his command.
Last night was undoubtedly the worst of the six career starts made by Beachy. But the fact that he was at least able to get to the sixth inning and keep the Marlins scoreless in his final 2 1/3 innings provided further indication of the kind of poise he has.
Yes, Beachy admitted he allowed himself to get rattled after hanging a curve to Chris Coghlan in the first inning. And yes, it was easy to see that he repeatedly missed location during the early innings. But as he continues to serve as the fifth starter, the Braves will have to expect to witness some growing pains.
With 35 starts at the professional level under his belt, Minor has shown that he could benefit from more time at the Minor League level. His development will continue to be aided by the fact that he pitched in crucial situations in international competitions and spent his collegiate days facing SEC talent as Vanderbilt’s ace.
Before being signed by the Braves as an undrafted free agent out of the Virginia Valley Summer League in 2008, Beachy’s development included some time as Indiana Wesleyan’s closer. He made eight Minor League starts in 2009 and 13 more before being called out of the Instructional League to make his first three Major League starts in the heart of a pennant race last year.
Last night’s start was the 27th Beachy has made at the professional level. Thus he will have a few more nights like last night. But he has still shownhe can provide some value in the fifth spot of the rotation.
The Braves will promote Minor when he proves that he’s ready. But until then, they need to allow him to develop with the hope that he will show why the gave him $2.4 million after taking him with the seventh overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Fredi’s choice to stick with O’Flaherty: I’m sure some of you have a differing opinion, but I too would have kept left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty on the mound to face the right-handed batters that came to the plate in last night’s decisive seventh inning. The Marlins preserved the lead they gained after O’Flaherty singles to three consecutive right-handed hitters – Gaby Sanchez, pinch hitter Wes Helms and John Buck.
Given a choice between right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink and O’Flaherty, I’m sticking with the southpaw, who is equally effective against right-handed and left-handed hitters. Right-handed hitters batted .229 (19-for-83) against him last year and left-handers hit .231 (18-for-78). Entering last night, he had allowed just one hit in eight at-bats against right-handed batters this year.
The inning might have transpired the same exact way. But you have to wonder if things might have proven different if the Braves had opted to promote Stephen Marek or another right-handed reliever instead of opting to carry a third catcher after optioning Minor to Triple-A Gwinnett last week.
They opted to carry the third catcher to provide more pinch-hit opportunities to David Ross, who hasn’t notched a plate appearance since tallying his only three of the season on April 4.
The tide should turn for Lowe: As long as the weather cooperates, Derek Lowe should at least get a little more offensive support than he has his past two starts. Well, we at least know that he won’t get any less.
Lowe has allowed three runs this year and suffered two losses. The only two runs the Braves have plated for him this year came during his victorious Opening Day effort against the Nationals.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Braves tally at least one tonight against Mets starter D.J. Carasco, who is making his first start of the year and second since 2005. He has allowed seven hits, issued three walks and surrendered three runs in 6 2/3 innings of relief this year.
Just four Braves have faced Carrasco in the past. Eric Hinske (3-for-6 with two homers) and Alex Gonzalez (1-for-2) are the only ones who have tallied more than two plate appearances against him. Tim Hudson and Nate McLouth have both recorded a hitless plate appearance against him.
Yesterday, Gonzalez said Hinske would likely start tomorrow’s game against Mike Pelfrey.
According to the most recent weather reports, it looks like the game will start on time and there’s a chance they could play a full game before the heavy stuff arrives. There is a 40 percent chance of rain from 8 p.m. ET-midnight.