Maholm’s injury could affect Beachy, Wood and Medlen
Last week, there was some speculation that Alex Wood could move into Kris Medlen’s rotation spot as early as Tuesday, when Medlen is scheduled to start against the Mets. But that plan has seemingly been altered by the uncertainty surrounding Paul Maholm’s injured left pitching wrist.
Maholm visited Dr. Gary Lourie in Atlanta this morning and the specific details of his injury will be announced later this afternoon. There is a chance he suffered a small fracture that was not visible on the initial X-ray performed once he left his start against the White Sox on Saturday. Or there’s a chance the veteran left-hander could be dealing with some kind of strain. We’ll find out soon enough.
Whatever the case, the current indications are that he is dealing with an ailment that should force him to miss at least one start — he is scheduled to oppose the Mets on Thursday. Even if Maholm says he can pitch through the discomfort, the Braves will likely take the cautious route.
The two obvious candidates to pitch in Maholm’s place would be Wood or Brandon Beachy, who has made three starts since beginning a second Minor League rehab stint earlier this month. While Wood would be pitching on two extra days of rest, Beachy would enter the start with just one extra day.
After throwing 70 pitches in five innings against Indianapolis on Friday, Beachy threw an additional 15 pitches in the bullpen. While he is seemingly conditioned to attempt to pitch past the fifth, you have to wonder if it would be wise for the Braves to simply allow Beachy to make one more rehab start before making his return from Tommy John surgery.
This decision regarding Beachy could be influenced by the fact that right elbow inflammation prevented him from making his return after he made what was supposed to be the final start of his first Minor League rehab stint last month. But the situation seems completely different this time. Beachy has since admitted that he was feeling elbow discomfort during each of the three rehab starts he made in June.
Wood has made just one start since the Braves sent him down to Triple-A Gwinnnett last week to prepare to join Atlanta’s rotation within the next week or two. The rookie southpaw threw 71 pitches in the five innings he completed on Thursday night against Indianapolis. He also threw 57 pitches while completing 3 2/3 innings in relief of Medlen during a July 12 loss against Cincinnati.
After Medlen allowed four earned runs and nine hits in just four innings against the Reds that night, multiple sources indicated they would not be surprised if Wood assumed Medlen’s spot in the rotation as early as tomorrow. While that could still happen, it would seem more sensible to rush just one of the two starters — Beachy or Wood — into the Atlanta rotation this week.
So if Wood is going to make a start this week for Atlanta, it seems more likely that he will get the call on Thursday. This also would provide Medlen another chance to give the club a chance to prove he can still be just as valuable in the rotation as he would be in the bullpen.