The Atlanta Braves starting rotation took a big blow during Wednesday’s game with the New York Mets when Tim Hudson suffered a fractured right ankle that will end his 2013 season. Atlanta was ahead at the time of the injury by a 6-0 count, and went on to an 8-2 victory, but the mood in the clubhouse after the game showed the level of concern and respect Hudson’s teammates have for him.
The injury occurred when Eric Young Jr. of the Mets stepped on Hudson’s ankle while he was covering first base. Young was upset to the point of tears as he waited for Hudson to be tended to by the EMTs. The two shook hands as Huddy was driven to the clubhouse.
Hudson was having one of his best starts of the season when he was injured. He had worked 7.2 innings and allowed two runs, both earned, on four hits, walked three and struck out nine-his season high- before leaving the game.
The Atlanta pitching situation has been a concern but, until the injury to Hudson, it was the pen that was the priority. The Braves have been scouting left-handed relievers, but had also shown some interest in obtaining another starter even before the injury to Hudson, as reported by CBSSports.com.
Alex Wood, who has 22 appearances with Atlanta out of the pen, will be making his first MLB start Thursday, and is a candidate to take Kris Medlen’s spot. Wood is 0-2 with one save and an ERA of 2.45 as a reliever. The southpaw is a starter, but was called up from Double-A Mississippi to Atlanta out of necessity due to a rash of injuries to Brave relievers.
The absence of Hudson makes the return of Brandon Beachy even more urgent. Beachy made his ninth minor league rehab start, seventh with the Gwinnett Braves, on the night Hudson went down. The righty totaled 86 pitches in his 6.0 innings of work. He allowed two hits and one earned run while issuing four free passes and striking out three against the Durham Bulls.
It was the third start for Beachy, who is recovering from “Tommy John” surgery, since he had minor inflammation and fluid buildup in his pitching elbow after his June 13 start against Rochester in Triple-A action.
The youth, combined with the lack of both pennant race and postseason experience, is a concern going forward. Mike Minor (9-5, 2.98) is 25 and is in just his second full season in Atlanta, Julio Teheran (7-5, 3.25) is 22 and has made just 23 starts in the show, and Paul Maholm (9-9, 4.41), at 31, is now the veteran that will be counted on to give the rotation stability through the pennant chase. Medlen (27) was likely going to the pen to make room for Wood, but now both may be needed as starters.
Look for Atlanta to add a veteran starter, move Medlen to pen and hope the young guns can hold up under the pressure of the pennant run. They still need a left-handed reliever but to get both means the Braves would have to part with more than one top prospect.
Five of Atlanta’s top seven prospects, as rated by MLB.com, are pitchers, two of which are Teheran (1) and Wood (7), with catcher Christian Bethancourt (2) and outfielder, third baseman Joey Terdoslavich (6) the only two position players. Outfielder Todd Cunningham (10) could also receive interest.
Bethancourt is thought to be the future so not likely to be moved, but the others, including the young pitchers not already in Atlanta, are available to shore up the rotation.
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