As the game got underway in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park tonight, the Braves knew that the rival Nationals had dropped 3 straight games. This brought Atlanta within a half game of Washington in the National League East. By game’s end, the Braves were tied once again for first place in the division. Hoping to reclaim the lead, the Braves knew that it wouldn’t be an easy feat given the news yesterday that they had lost Gavin Floyd for the season after he underwent surgery to repair his fractured elbow. The team was then dealt a smaller scare when in the first inning in Philly, slugger Evan Gattis appeared to tweak something on a swing at the plate. It was announced quickly after that he had a spasm of the right rhomboid in his upper back. Needless to say, the Braves could really use a few wins against the Phillies.
When the Braves went out and signed Gavin Floyd for $4 million for his services in the 2014 season, they took a huge chance on a veteran pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery. They couldn’t have been more pleased when Floyd joined the rotation and went 2-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 9 starts. His record doesn’t reflect how well he pitched. The boys averaged 3.25 runs in support of Floyd with them scoring 5 or more runs in only 3 of his games started. 3 of Floyd’s starts the offense scored 2 or fewer runs behind him. Floyd’s surgery is the end of the season and whether he can return from this and pitch is unknown.
Floyd had been a huge pickup for the Braves once they learned they would be without Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen for the season. Now it would appear that the biggest signing of the offseason and early spring training was that of veteran Aaron Harang.
In Floyd’s absence, Alex Wood will step into the rotation. If Wood’s start Wednesday is any indication, it appears it will be a seamless transition. Wood pitched 7 shutout innings against Houston, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 4 batters.
With 1 game and 1 win behind them, the Braves will face off for 3 more games against the Phillies. Saturday will feature a doubleheader. The second game of the doubleheader will see David Hale step back into a starting role, a role he feels is the best fit for him. Because Hale isn’t stretched out like Wood had been when he stepped in to fill the rotation spot of Floyd’s, Hale will need a piggyback reliever and the Braves used their 26th man allowance for doubleheaders to call up Gus Schlosser. Gus is 4-3 with a 4.39 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett this season (55 1/3 innings). In his limited appearance with the big club earlier this season he 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 innings pitched.
The remainder of the series at Citizens Bank Park, including the Saturday doubleheader will match up as follows: Saturday, game 1 will feature Santana (5-5, 4.15) vs. Hernandez (3-6, 4.41); Saturday, game 2 will feature Hale (2-2, 3.14) vs. O’Sullivan; and the series finale Sunday will pit Harang (6-6, 3.78) vs. Buchmann (4-3, 4.79).
Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.