• Brandon Beachy

    Braves sign Santana, Medlen a likely Tommy John candidate

    Braves, GM, Frank Wren

    Braves GM, Frank Wren

    When starting pitcher Kris Medlen left the mound Sunday, the Frank Wren knew they the Braves were in trouble. With the departure of veteran Tim Hudson to free agency, growing concerns about the health of Brandon Beachy, and a rotation rounded out with the inexperience of youth (Teheran, Wood, Hale), it was clear the Braves would need to make a move if they hoped to contend in the National League East.

    Not taking much time at all, general manager Frank Wren moved quickly to get free agent Ervin Santana in for a physical. Santana, who had been rumored to be in talks with various teams including the Blue Jays and Mariners, was intrigued by the idea of pitching in the National League. It didn’t take long at all for the Braves to reach a deal. He flew from Arizona to Florida Tuesday, took his physical last night and signed with the club this morning.

    The 1-year deal for Santana is worth $14.1 million. The Braves will lose the 26th slot in the MLB draft, which was worth $1,839,400 in 2013. If the Braves don’t re-sign Santana after the season, they’ll have the opportunity to gain a draft pick

    Santana, 31, had a rebound season with the Kansas City Royals in 2013 after a tough go in 2012 with his long-time club the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Santana posted a 9-10 record with a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 32 starts (211 innings pitched). Over a 9-year career, he has a career 4.19 ERA, a winning 105-90 record, has had 5 seasons of 200+ innings and has pitched 14 complete games. His experience on the mound will be important to a young staff that features only 1 other veteran–Freddy Garcia (until, presumably Gavin Floyd returns from Tommy John surgery and joins the club).

    The flip side of the Santana signing is the terrible news about clubhouse and fan favorite Kris Medlen. In this morning’s press conference, the Braves announced both the signing of Ervin Santana and the unfortunate news that Kris Medlen’s MRI revealed “involvement” of the elbow ligament that had previously been repaired. It seems a forgone conclusion at this point that Medlen is headed for his 2nd Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. It will be his 2nd elbow surgery in 4 years.

    On top of the Medlen news, the Braves have been watching Brandon Beachy closely. He left his last spring training game early with soreness in his throwing arm. It was announced that he would miss his next spring start to rest that arm. Like Medlen, Beachy has a replaced ligament in his pitching elbow and returned for a short time last season from that surgery before needing an arthroscopic clean-out of his elbow shortly after. Beachy arrived at camp supposedly healthy, but his velocity has been way down (averaging 86-87 mph).

    Also worth noting is that Mike Minor has been dealing with shoulder soreness recently. Camp for him got off to a slow start as he was unable to workout due to pain from a procedure on his urethra over the winter. A rotation that was likely to feature some combination of Medlen, Beachy, Minor, Teheran, Wood/Hale and possibly veteran Garcia will now feature Santana and Teheran for certain and hopefully some combination of Beachy, Minor, Wood/Hale and Garcia to round it out.

    Frank Wren has had his work cut out for him this winter and never more than in the past 4 days. The old adage ‘when you think you have enough pitching, get more’ is once again confirmed.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.

    Braves make moves with magic number down to 6

    Georgia native David Hale will make his first big league start Friday against the San Diego Padres.

    Georgia native David Hale will make his first big league start Friday against the San Diego Padres.

    With their magic number whittled down to 6 games, the Atlanta Braves welcome back familiar faces and have high hopes for the return of others as they head home to Turner Field to face the under .500 San Diego Padres for the weekend series.

    In the first game of the weekend series, the Braves will send to the mound David Hale who was called up during the last series. Hale has pitched 9 innings over 5 games since being called up and has a 3.00 ERA. In 22 games with Triple-A Gwinnett this season, Hale had a record of 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA. His minor league appearances have, for the most part, been starts, though he has been utilized as a reliever thus far. This will be his first big league start.

    The Braves made numerous moves and received news about injured players during the Miami series. The Braves activated Reed Johnson who had been on the disabled list since July 28th with a pesky Achilles injury. Also, the Braves called up catching prospect Christian Bethancourt during the 4-game set with Miami. This season for Double-A Mississippi, Bethancourt hit .277 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 90 games. Bethancourt has been hailed as the replacement for Brian McCann as he enters free agency this coming offseason. The Braves also have reliever Jordan Walden back who has survived yet another injury this season. His return will take some of the pressure of Luis Avilan who has not been as sharp since his consecutive scoreless streak ceased.

    As the team arrives back in Atlanta, the Braves will get to see Jason Heyward taking batting practice for the first time Friday. Heyward, recovering from a fractured jaw, is hopeful to be in playing shape in time for a few games at the end of September prior to the playoffs. Heyward’s absence has been felt as the Braves have juggled playing time between B.J. Upton, Jordan Schafer, Evan Gattis, the now injured Justin Upton and call-ups from Triple-A Gwinnett. Clearly, having Heyward back will be hugely important to postseason success.

    Paul Maholm, who had experienced elbow discomfort dating back 2 starts when he pitched against the Mets, had an MRI on his pitching elbow that revealed inflammation, but no structural damage. The Braves are hopeful that he will make his next start as scheduled. This recent issue seems to indicate that Maholm won’t be the 4th arm in the starting rotation for the playoffs. Like Maholm, Brandon Beachy underwent an MRI that revealed continued inflammation of his repaired elbow. Beachy returned from Tommy John surgery to make 5 starts before being shut down with elbow discomfort. At this point, it would seem most likely that Beachy will sit out the remainder of the season and start anew at spring training.

    With just over two weeks to go, the Braves are in great shape with an 88-58 (.603) record. They currently trail only the surging Boston Red Sox in wins. Their record stands as the best record in the National League. Their 11-game lead on the Washington Nationals with the Nats on the schedule after the Padres will likely put the Nats’ last flicker of hope out for 2013. The Braves must continue to push themselves in the final days as home field advantage based on the best record in the league will be highly advantageous.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.

    Sweep of Cards, trade for Downs, Beachy back & Rocks up next

    Atlanta traded Cory Rasmus (RHP) for Scott Downs (LHP). Downs is 2-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 43 appearances.

    Atlanta traded Cory Rasmus (RHP) for Scott Downs (LHP). Downs is 2-3 with a 1.84 ERA in 43 appearances.

    Fresh off a stunning sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, Braves’ fans learned Monday morning that the Braves had traded Cory Rasmus (RHP) to the Angels for Scott Downs (LHP). Downs joins a bullpen of untouchable relievers.

    In 27 innings, the Braves held the St. Louis Cardinals to 3 runs, 2 of them coming in Kris Medlen’s 6 innings of the series finale. This despite the Cards coming into Atlanta with the most runs, RBIs and the highest batting average, on-base percentage and OPS in the National League. The series showed just how much promise a future rotation with the young Teheran, Minor and Medlen poses. Adding in rehabbed Beachy and the Braves’ rotation easily becomes one of the best in baseball. With Wood currently in the rotation and Beachy joining it tomorrow, the average age of the Braves rotation is 24.4 years old.

    The Braves pitching dominance is not solely the product of the starting rotation. Atlanta’s bullpen is the best in the business with 1-2-3 punch of Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel from the 7th inning on. Craig Kimbrel recorded consecutive saves against the Cards, passing the 30 save mark. Kimbrel is just the second closer in franchise history to have 3 – 30 save seasons. Kimbrel’s 3 seasons with 30 saves happen to be consecutive and include his only 3 full seasons in the big leagues. Kimbrel joins Braves’ hall of famer and future inductee to Cooperstown John Smoltz in the category. Kimbrel isn’t the only reliever having an exceptional season. Luis Avilan has not allowed an earned run in 27 straight innings. In those 27 appearances, hitters have an .079 average against him and have struck out 16 times.

    Offensively, the Braves continue their all-or-nothing approach at the plate. There have been positive signs from the likes of Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons. Heyward hit .273 during the Cardinals’ series with 3 hits, 2 homers and 3 RBIs. The positive sign being that he didn’t strike out during the series. And he did this while hitting in the lead off spot. His defense, particularly in the unusual position of center field, has been nothing short of spectacular. Though Andrelton Simmons’ power detracts from his batting average and sets him up for a higher strikeout rate, he is currently the third hardest player to strike out in the NL. He averages 1 K every 12.8 plate appearances. As of this morning, Chris Johnson leads the National League in hitting. He is behind only reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera in all of baseball. With a .338 batting average (now having a qualifying number of at-bats), Johnson is ahead of Yadier Molina (.334) and Michael Cuddyer (.330). Johnson has 104 hits, 22 doubles, 6 homers and 34 RBIs.

    With a sweep of the Cardinals, the Braves’ record stands at 60-45. They have an 8 1/2 game lead over the Washington Nationals in the NL East.


    BEACHY MAKES 2013 DEBUT AGAINST ROCKIES…

    Baseball can be all about timing. Some call it luck. For the Braves, Tim Hudson’s devastating, season-ending ankle injury could have been season-altering. However, the timing of Brandon Beachy’s rehab worked out perfectly for him to take the place of the veteran ace. Beachy had a slight setback at Triple-A Gwinnett some time ago, but has recovered completely from that setback as well as the Tommy John surgery that shelved him last year just before the all-star break. Beachy will make his 2013 season debut tonight against the visiting Colorado Rockies.

    The Braves face the Rockies at a time when the Rockies are trying to stay competitive in the NL West. With the surging Dodgers and the more consistent Diamondbacks, the Rockies find themselves 8 games back in the division. The Rockies hope to insert Carlos Gonzalez in their lineup while in Atlanta. CarGo has been dealing with a sprained right finger since before the all-star break, something that kept him out of the Home Run Derby. His bat and defense will certainly go a long way to keeping the Rockies in the hunt.

    Tonight Braves’ fans will be treated to De La Rosa (10-5, 2.97) vs. Beachy (–, -.–). The second game of the season will feature Nicasio (6-4, 4.40) vs. Wood (0-2, 3.42). Likely the pitching match-up to watch will be in game 3 with Chatwood (7-3, 2.48) vs. Minor (10-5, 2.89). The 4th and final game of the series will feature a pitcher TBD vs. Teheran (7-5, 3.07).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.

    Hudson injury dampens Mets series, Braves head home for Cards

    In what should have been a terrific series for the Braves to continue their dominance in the National League East, the Braves watched as veteran ace Tim Hudson pitched a gem that ended suddenly with a freak accident. To say that the Braves were shaken by the injury to Hudson would be an understatement given Hudson’s role as a veteran leader in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, the Braves will face the remainder of the season without the ace.

    Following the injury and the news that Tim’s right ankle, his push off foot, was fractured and would require surgery once swelling subsided, his wife Kim tweeted the following:

    The response not just of his teammates, but of Mets’ players including Eric Young, Jr. who actually stepped on Hudson’s leg as he hit the first base bag, was moving the night of the injury. Matching it was the reaction online of current and former players across baseball from teammates Freddie Freeman, Alex Wood to former players Dale Murphy, Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine and even Burt Blyleven. Baseball writers Jon Morosi, Buster Olney and Jayson Stark all commented on how valuable Hudson is in the clubhouse and how fierce he is as a competitor. In fact, friends, fans and teammates alike all referred to Tim Hudson as a great guy before mentioning his skill as a player.

    Prior to the bizarre incident on the first base bag, Hudson was pitching the best game of his 2013 season. In 7 2/3 innings, Hudson gave up 4 hits, 2 earned runs, walked 3 batters and struck out 9. With the season-ending surgery, he will have put together an 8-7 record with a 3.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and just shy of 100 strikeouts. Given some of the struggles he endured in the first half, Hudson finishes his injury-shortened season strong. He had a rocky June, going 0-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 6 starts, but had turned his season around in July where he went 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 3 starts.

    One point worth noting is that this was Hudson’s final season under contract with the Braves. At his age, 38, and the extent of his injury, there is the possibility that he won’t be back in a Braves uniform, if a big league uniform at all. Braves fans everywhere are wishing that not to be the case and sincerely wishing Huddy a speedy recovery.

    Hudson was the story of the series, but here are a few notes on the series:

    • The Braves took 2-of-4 in New York, bringing their season record to 57-45. The Braves lost 4-of-7 on the road, pushing them to 25-30 on the road this season.
    • Alex Wood made a spot start for the injured Paul Maholm in the season finale, notching a no-decision after going 4 1/3 innings, giving up 8 hits, 4 earned runs and striking out 5.
    • Shortstop Andrelton Simmons Simmons now has more homers with 11 than Freddie Freeman (10), Heyward (7) and B.J. Upton (8).
    • Dan Uggla hit his 21st home run of the season off Zach Wheeler. Uggla leads the club in homers.
    • After being helped out by an incredible defensive play by Jason Heyward preventing the tying run and perhaps the winning run in the 9th inning of the 2nd game of the series, Craig Kimbrel recorded his 28th save of 2013 (3rd most in the NL).
    • In the game that saw Tim Hudson go down, Evan Gattis hit his first home run since returning to the Braves lineup with an injured oblique. It was El Oso Blanco’s 15th home run of the season.

    BRAVES OPEN HOME STAND AGAINST CARDINALS…

    The Cardinals, fresh off a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies will arrive in Atlanta for a 3-game weekend series that kicks off the Braves’ home stand.

    Brandon Beachy was solid in his recent outing with the Gwinnett Braves.

    Brandon Beachy was solid in his recent outing with the Gwinnett Braves.

    After the series in New York, the question everybody is asking is what’s next for the rotation? It cannot be said frequently enough how important pitching depth in a big league system is.

    The night that Tim Hudson was injured, Brandon Beachy pitched at Triple-A Gwinnett. His numbers were exceptional, pitching 6 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 earned run on 99 pitches. Prior to needing Tommy John surgery just shy of last year’s all-star break, Beachy held a league-leading 2.00 ERA in his 13 starts. Brandon Beachy will make his 2013 debut on Monday in the place of Hudson.

    If Alex Wood can start again in the place of Maholm while he remains on the disabled list, the Braves have enough arms with Beachy back. However, how well this rotation can pitch is another matter. Kris Medlen had more or less prepared himself for a trip back to the bullpen after his last three starts. Over his last 3 starts, Medlen went 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA. Paul Maholm had been inconsistent in his last several outings, putting up an 0-3 record with a 10.13 ERA in his last 3 stars. The best news was that Tim Hudson was turning around his season. That leaves Minor and Teheran who have been the most consistent pitchers in the rotation and perhaps two of the better pitchers in the league. The Braves’ rotation was in a good position among the NL. For that to continue, Maholm and Medlen must straighten out their issues and Beachy will need to be the Beachy of old. Atlanta’s front office will now be focusing on a starter prior to next week’s trade deadline, either instead of or coinciding with looking for a bullpen arm.

    Now for the pitching match ups against the St. Louis Cardinals. Friday’s game will feature Wainwright (13-5, 2.44) vs. Minor (9-5, 2.98) and will air on MLB Network. Saturday’s game, telecast on FOX, will feature Kelly (1-3, 3.88) vs. Teheran (7-5, 3.25). The series finale on Sunday will air on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and will feature Miller (10-6, 2.77) vs. Medlen (6-10, 3.78).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.

    As trade deadline approaches, Braves hold ground in NL East

    With ten days left before the trade deadline, the Braves are in the precarious position of deciding whether to pull the string on a trade or stand pat. Despite their tough series loss in Chicago, the Braves held their ground in the NL East with a 6-1/2 game lead over the Phillies and a 7 game lead over the Nationals. Their tough loss in the series finale thanks to little run support for a great Mike Minor outing came on an afternoon when both the Nats and the Phillies also lost.

    The Braves are decimated by injuries as they return from the all-star break, with key injuries to Jordan Schafer, Freddie Freeman, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Paul Maholm. Jordan Schafer is expected to be out at least another 4 weeks with a right ankle fracture. B.J. Upton was placed on the DL just before the break with shoulder woes. Jason Heyward was given 3 extra days rest in addition to the break for his ailing legs. He is expected to start in the first game of the Mets’ series and will be plugged into B.J. Upton’s spot in centerfield. And Freddie Freeman was forced to hand over his playing spot at the All Star Game to Brian McCann due to the jammed thumb he suffered just prior to the break. He was back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale.

    However, none of the injuries the Braves have sustained recently play into the question of whether they will make a trade before the deadline. The likely spot the Braves would look to improve is in the bullpen. Looking for a reliable reliever, the Braves have cobbled together a strong ‘pen in the absence of Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty and Cristhian Martinez (who had season-ending shoulder surgery just prior to the break). They could certainly improve in the ‘pen, though they have the 2nd best bullpen ERA in the National League.

    One piece of the ‘pen that is still untested is the recent call-up of RHP Kameron Loe. Loe had had a rough few years in the big leagues with Seattle and Milwaukee before signing a minor league deal with the Braves. His numbers at Triple-A Gwinnett:

    Year Team W L W-L% ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
    2013 Gwinnett (AAA)  4 2 .667 3.19 21 4 2 42.1 40 18 15 2 8 24 1.134

    Unfortunately, what the Braves would like from Kameron Loe is what they got from Chad Durbin in his year with the team. That isn’t likely to happen. However, Loe has improved his pitching in Gwinnett and it appears his sinker is finally back to being as dominant as it once was in his early years with Texas. If his sinker can in fact sink, Loe could be a good situational pitcher out of the ‘pen for Fredi Gonzalez.

    BRAVES RETURN TO CITI FIELD FOR 4-GAME SET…

    With the wrist injury to Paul Maholm in his last start, the Braves now face the question of whether or not to activate young ace Brandon Beachy. Maholm is returning to Atlanta to have his strained wrist examined. The Braves will not know whether he can make his start against the Mets until the wrist is examined. If Maholm cannot start, Beachy has been progressing in his rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett.

    A break down of Beachy’s numbers while on rehab assignment following Tommy John surgery:

    Year Team W L W-L% ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WP WHIP
    2013 Rome (A) 1 0 1.000 0.00 1 1 5 3 0 0 0 1 3 0 0.800
    2013 Mississippi (AA) 1 0 1.000 5.40 1 1 5 6 3 3 1 1 4 0 1.400
    2013 Gwinnett (AAA) 1 3 .250 3.38 6 6 24 21 10 9 3 14 23 2 1.458

    Adding Beachy to the rotation in Maholm’s spot only prolongs the question of what to do with 6 potential starters, but for the time being, the Braves will have dodged that question once again.

    At end of upcoming series against the Mets, the Braves will have played New York 14 times in 2013 and will have lucked out by only facing Matt Harvey once. This is similar to their luck in not facing Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.

    The upcoming series against the New York Mets will open at Citi Field with Teheran (7-5, 3.35) vs. Gee (7-7, 4.32). The second game of the series will feature Medlen (6-9, 3.64) vs. Torres (0-1, 0.79). Hudson (7-7, 4.08) vs. Hefner (4-7, 3.93) will face off in the third game of the series. Slated to pitch in the final game of the series is the injured lefty Maholm (9-9, 4.41); whether he will be able to pitch vs. Wheeler (3-1, 3.58) is still up in the air.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.

    Braves drop series to Brewers, hold ground in NL East

    Brian McCann snapped the Braves consecutive shutouts in game 3 with a grand slam in the 1st inning.

    Brian McCann snapped the Braves’ consecutive shutouts in game 3 with a grand slam in the 1st inning.

    When baseball writers use the phrase “feast or famine” in baseball, they usually apply it to streaky players. However, the Atlanta Braves’ offense is as streaky collectively as the most streaky player in the game. Never has this “feast or famine” pattern been more obvious than it was while the Braves were in Milwaukee. They managed just 2 hits in the first game, 4 in the second and then a whopping 14 hits in the only game they walked away with a win from.

    Game 1:

    W: Peralta (5-8) L: Teheran (5-4) SV: Henderson (10)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
    Brewers 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 2 8 0

    Julio Teheran’s win/loss record, somewhat like Kris Medlen’s record, does not reflect just how brilliant the young man has been for the Braves in his second chance with the club in 2013. Like Hudson in game 2, Teheran just didn’t have the backing of the offense. While Teheran’s ERA improved in his start, his record did not.

    An incredible stat turned up this series: The Braves hadn’t scored an earned run on the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen in 72 consecutive innings.

    Game 2:

    W: Badenhop (1-3) L: Hudson (4-7) SV: Rodriguez (6)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
    Brewers 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 x 2 9 0

    Tim Hudson pitched an absolute gem and remained the losing pitcher. Hudson is now winless over his last 9 starts going back to May 5th. In those 9 starts, Huddy has received a total of 10 runs of support. 6 of those runs came in Hudson’s last 5 starts. Where Kris Medlen was once the recipient of hard luck, receiving very little run support in games when he was pitching exceptionally well, Hudson now appears to have taken on that role for the Braves.

    When the Braves wrapped up game 2 at Miller Park, they had gone scoreless for 24 consecutive innings. They lost via the shutout for the 2nd straight day, a first on the season. This particular stat is surprising given the number of shutouts the Braves have been on the bad end of this season and how frequently their offense has failed their solid pitchers.

    Game 3:

    W: Maholm (8-6) L: Figaro (1-2) SV: Kimbrel (21)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Braves 4 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 14 0
    Brewers 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 4 9 0

    Of the three pitchers the Braves sent to the mound against the Brewers, Maholm was perhaps the least sharp and likely to notch a win. The only thing Maholm had going that neither Tim Hudson nor Julio Teheran had was the support of a robust offense.

    The Braves were finally able to get runs on the board with a 14-hit effort. It was the 2nd time in the last 20 games that the Braves scored 7+ runs. And as Mike Minor noted on Twitter following the game, the Braves are now 3-0 when a Braves starting pitcher hits a homer in the game.

    Perhaps the offensive highlight of the entire game was when Brian McCann stepped to the plate in the 1st inning and hit a grand slam. McCann is now in the top 3 active catchers in home runs and trails only Hank Aaron in grand slams among Atlanta Braves.

    The Braves managed to survive many things on the trip through Milwaukee including a so-called haunted hotel and the dreaded sweep.

    BRAVES TO PLAY 2 AT KAUFMANN STADIUM…

    The Braves arrived in Kansas City following Sunday afternoon’s win against the Brewers with a day off. They will get underway Tuesday with a 2-game set against the Royals before returning home to face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks. While in Kansas City, manager Fredi Gonzalez and coach Terry Pendleton stopped by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

    With the day off behind them, the Braves will buckle down and hope to get another win for Kris Medlen who has been pitching well of late and finally getting a few wins for his effort. He will face off against Erwin Santana who has had similarly bad luck this season despite exceptional pitching. The other pitcher the Braves send to the mound, Mike Minor, suffered a loss in his last outing, but has kept his ERA below 3. His pitching has made him a likely choice for the All Star Game that will be held at Citi Field in New York next month.

    A few updates on injuries: Brandon Beachy threw from 30 and 60 feet on the 23rd and is scheduled to throw bullpen session week this coming week. This is after shutting down for a short time with elbow inflammation on the eve of his first big league start since Tommy John surgery. Ramiro Pena was sent to the 15-day DL with a shoulder strain and in his place Paul Janish was called up from Triple-A. Janish has not been seen with the big league club in 2013 after having shoulder surgery alongside Brian McCann. Luis Ayala, who has been on the DL while treating an anxiety disorder, was sent out on a rehab assignment beginning June 20th. His return to the bullpen could be very useful for the Braves as they continue to make due without 2 of their most valuable arms in Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. Justin Upton is hoping to avoid the disabled list, still battling a sore hand. Upton was held out of Saturday’s game and it was announced on Sunday that Upton’s hand was bothering him. Giving him 3-consecutive days off might be the ticket to keep him off the DL.

    The first game of the 2-game set in Kansas City will feature Medlen (4-7, 2.96) vs. Santana (5-5, 2.64). The second game of the series will feature Minor (8-3, 2.89) vs. Mendoza (2-4, 4.30).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter@framethepitch.

    Win against SF pits Beachy-less Braves against Mets

    The Braves will be without Brandon Beachy for their 5-game set against the Mets. They'd hoped to start him in the 1st game of doubleheader.

    The Braves will be without Brandon Beachy for their 5-game set against the Mets. They’d hoped to start him in the 1st game of the Tuesday doubleheader.

    The Atlanta Braves wrapped a 3-game series at Turner Field against the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants with one question on their minds: What will the pitching schedule be against the New York Mets? The Braves were waiting for the final game against the Giants to make an announcement about who would be pitching in one of the doubleheader games Tuesday after ace Brandon Beachy struggled in his most recent rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett with inflammation/fluid in his repaired pitching elbow. That decision is Alex Wood. Atlanta will welcome the Mets for an unusual 5-game series, making up for weather-postponed games earlier in the season at Citi Field.

    Before we can focus on how the series against the Mets will pan out, a recap of the weekend series against the Giants:

    Game 1:

    W: Bumgarner (6-4) L: Medlen (3-7)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Giants 1 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 6 11 1
    Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0

    Medlen wasn’t sharp, but once again he received no run support. This seems to be the story of Medlen’s season. While Minor has cited run support as a big part of his success this season, Medlen could easy decry the offense for leaving him in a lurch. Medlen was pitching with the added pressure of not knowing which of the starters might be sent to the ‘pen with the looming return of ace Brandon Beachy. Medlen had said repeatedly that he didn’t want to return to the ‘pen after much success as a starter last season. However, the two odd men out appeared to be Kris Medlen and Paul Maholm.

    The Braves continue to lead the National League in strikeouts (615) and are tied with Colorado in home runs (91). Those two stats seem to be a huge part of the problem with run support for Medlen. In his starts, he has all too often seen his team record strikeouts and not home runs. The Braves have struggled in games that they haven’t hit a home run, winning only 4 games in which a home run isn’t put on the board.  Medlen has also watching his team be shut out more in his starts than anyone else in the rotation, 3 shut outs, something that has become a trend for the Braves. In half of Medlen’s starts, the Braves have scored 2 or fewer runs.

    Game 2:

    W: Kimbrel (2-1) L: Romo (3-3)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Giants 0 0 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 5 11 1
    Braves 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 2 6 11 2

    The two big stories to come out of the second game of the series were the 2 homers by B.J. Upton and the crazy 9th inning that saw the Braves tie up the game and go on to win it on a walk-off single by first baseman Freddie Freeman.

    In his last 7 games, B.J. Upton is hitting .273 with 6 hits, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 strike outs, 3 walks, a .360 on-base percentage and .636 slugging. His average is up almost 10 ticks in a week. This is a very good sign for the outfielder and the Braves who have been patient as he has worked diligently to regain his swing. Something else that is noteworthy in his last 7 games is that he has stolen 2 bases and scored 3 runs. These are both things that the Braves expected from B.J. Upton when they signed him.

    While Freddie Freeman is currently 5th among 1st basemen in All Star balloting, he continues to lead the Braves offense and put his ballerina-like defense on display. Freddie finished game 2 of the series with an unbelievable .407 average with 2-outs and runners in scoring position. That puts him 7th in the National League in that category. He is now 2nd in the NL with a .446 with RISP.

    Game 3:

    W: Teheran (5-3) L: Lincecum (4-7) SV: Kimbrel (19)

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Giants 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 1
    Braves 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 x 3 7 0

    The difference between Julio Teheran in the 2013 season versus when he was first put in the rotation in 2012 was no more obvious than in the final inning of Teheran’s 6-inning outing last night. Teheran allowed back-to-back singles to Posey and Pence before striking out Belt and Torres with those runners on. He allowed another single to Arias, increasing the pressure of the pinch he’d pitched into, but was able to get Noonan to pop-up to get out of the inning. While Julio Teheran can dominate on his good days, just as he had in 2012, he can now pitch out of situations that would get the better of him last season.

    Teheran notched 8 strike outs before turning the game over to Avilan, Walden and Kimbrel who kept the shutout of the Giants intact while striking out 4 batters collectively. Kimbrel recorded his 19th save of the season, tying him with Mujica of the Cardinals for 2nd in the NL in saves behind Grilli of the Pirates who has an unreal 25 saves before the all-star break.

    The Braves did not tally a home run in the game, looking more like a small ball team than they have most of the season when their power bats have led the way.

    BRAVES BEGIN 5-GAME SET WITHOUT BEACHY…

    While the plan was to use Brandon Beachy for the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the ace’s recent setback at Triple-A Gwinnett threw a wrench in the plans of Fredi Gonzalez and Frank Wren. Beachy has fluid on his pitching elbow, the elbow repaired by Tommy John surgery last summer. This leaves the Braves with a predicament they haven’t experienced yet this year–who to bring from the Triple-A Gwinnett or out of the bullpen to start in his place. The likely choice was Alex Wood and the Braves have now announced that he will get his first big league start on Tuesday. Wood was called up in May, his contract bought from the Double-A Mississippi Braves, to help in the beat-up bullpen.

    Alex Wood’s numbers with Double-A Mississippi:

    Team W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
    MIS 4 2 1.26 10 10 57.0 41 10 8 1 15 57 1.63 .195

    It’s worth noting that Major League Baseball has changed the roster allowance this season so that teams can pick up a 26th man for a day with a doubleheader. For Fredi Gonzalez, you have to assume he will be going with an extra reliever in the event that Alex Wood comes out of the game early or the game goes into extra innings.

    One another note about the 5-game set: Zack Wheeler will be making his big league debut for the Mets against Maholm. Wheeler is from the Atlanta area. Wheeler has had 12 starts in Triple-A with a 4.14 ERA. Wheeler was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft by the San Francisco Giants and made his way to the Mets in the Carlos Beltran trade. One of the highest-praised prospects in baseball, his rise to the big leagues was slowed this season when he experienced soreness in his right clavicle.

    While a question mark looms for the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Mets in terms of what the Braves will get out of Alex Wood, the rest of the pitching match ups are as follows: Monday’s game will feature Gee (5-6, 4.84) vs. Hudson (4-6, 4.41); the Mets will send Harvey (5-1, 2.04) vs. a pitcher TBD in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader; the second game of the doubleheader will feature Wheeler (0-0, 0.00) vs. Maholm (7-5, 3.65); Wednesday’s game will pit Marcum (0-8, 5.43) vs. Medlen (3-7, 3.09); and, the final game of the 5-game set features Niese (3-6, 4.15) vs. Minor (8-2, 2.68).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#!/framethepitch">@framethepitch.

     

    Braves fair poorly in SoCal, head home to face Giants

    After going 2-5 against the Dodgers and Padres on their latest road trip, you can’t blame the Braves for wanting to get back home before facing another California team. Especially when their next match-up comes against the reigning World Champion Giants who are third in the National League West with a 33-31 record. The Braves enter the series with a record of 39-27 and a 6-game lead on the Washington Nationals. The Braves will face the Giants for a 3-game set and then welcome the Mets for an unusual 5-game set due to rainouts in their previous match-ups.

    While the Braves managed to salvage 2 games against the Dodgers with wins behind Kris Medlen and Mike Minor, the Braves turned around and were swept by the Padres at Petco Park. In the final game of that series, the Braves had neither defensive nor offensive luck on their side, scoring only 3 runs on 10 hard hits and earning an error on a day that could/should have been a multi-error event. Perhaps it would have taken the sting out of being swept by the Padres if the Braves had performed better in L.A. against a Dodgers team that is without several of their superstars and is trying to decide what to do with a past superstar in Andre Ethier. The silver lining is that the Nationals and Phillies have not made up significant ground on the first place Braves.

    In a season that has not gone well for veteran Tim Hudson on the road, it didn’t help his cause when he notched 2 losses on the swing through southern California. Hudson is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA at Turner Field while he is 1-6 with a 6.07 ERA on the road. His road woes seemed to be behind him when he exited his start against the Dodgers with only 1 run earned against him. However,  the ‘pen did not fair as well, Cory Gearrin surrendering 4 runs in a 1/3 of an inning. Hudson notched a loss in that outing and again against the Padres when he allowed 3 runs and was not given adequate run support to overcome that. In both outings, Huddy pitched at least 7 innings. This, of course, plays into the biggest question for the Braves: Where will Brandon Beachy fit in the rotation when he returns?

    Let’s explore this further. Kris Medlen has been vocal about his desire to stay in the rotation. Mike Minor has pitched like Atlanta’s ace and will not be the odd man out when Beachy returns. Teheran has been nearly as solid as Minor, showing a few weaknesses lately, but nothing to be concerned about in a young arm. This leaves Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm. The question about Paul Maholm is whether or not he is too valuable an arm to be placed in the bullpen where he would likely be used as a situational lefty or as the long man should a pitcher struggle and leave after only a few innings. The likelihood of Tim Hudson being sent to the ‘pen seems unlikely as well, given his veteran status, his salary and the fact that Hudson has been with the Braves the longest. Seniority would seem to matter in this case. Here lies the problem. Could Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez truly rationalize sending any of the 5 starters to the ‘pen in favor of Beachy who is returning from Tommy John surgery? The question certainly depends on Beachy as well. Pitchers recovered and rehabilitated from Tommy John surgery often return as strong if not stronger than they were when they got injured. There is no question that when he got injured, Brandon Beachy was the best pitcher of the 2012 season in the National League. Having said that, would putting Beachy in the bullpen elongate both this season and the 2014 season by limiting his innings out of the gate? There doesn’t seem to be a consensus among baseball writers and both Wren and Gonzalez have said as late as the Padres season that they don’t know what the decision will be.

    Something good to come from the SoCal swing was the production from Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla. In his last 8 games, Heyward is batting .412 (14-for-34) with 2 doubles, 3 homers, 4, RBI, 7 runs scored, a .459 on-base percentage and is slugging .735. In Uggla’s last 9 games, he is batting .300 with 9 hits, 7 runs scored, 3 homers, 7 walks, 7 RBI, a .432 on-base percentage and is slugging .600. For Uggla, the last 9 games have increased his batting average on the season to .193. His lowest point of the season came on April 28th when he was batting .160. In addition to Heyward and Uggla, the cold bat of B.J. Upton has improved in June. Since June 1st, the eldest Upton has improved his batting average from .145 to .161. The Braves have also seen B.J. on the base paths and have been reminded of why Upton’s speed has always been such a draw.

    Facing the Giants this weekend, the Braves will have to use home field advantage to get back on track. Sending their best pitchers to the mound against the Giants will go a long way to doing that. The Braves will not face Cain or Lincecum this time, boding well for Atlanta’s offense.

    Game 1 of the series will pit Bumgarner (5-4, 3.58) vs. Medlen (3-6, 2.87). Saturday’s game will feature Gaudin (2-1, 2.32) vs. Minor (8-2, 2.44). And Lincecum (4-6, 4.70) vs. Teheran (4-3, 3.62) will cap the series.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#!/framethepitch">@framethepitch.

    Braves sweep Pirates with near no-no, head to L.A.

    As the Pirates arrived at Turner Field for a 3-game set, all the talk was about how good the Pirates are in 2013. Yes, they have a superb starting rotation. Yes, they have the best bullpen in baseball at the moment. Yes, they have great young superstars in the making with Starling Marte, Garrett Jones and all-star Andrew McCutchen. But what they don’t have is that grit and ability to overcome adversity that the Braves have displayed all season.

    There are plenty of good teams, even some great ones, in baseball this season. However, the Braves have been able to prove time and time again that they have incredible potential, have the ability to overcome great adversity via injury

    Game 1:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Pirates 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 9 0
    Braves 0 0 0 2 4 0 1 0 x 7 10 1

    W: Medlen (2-6) L: Burnett (3-6)

    Kris Medlen, the man with the hardest luck in baseball this season, had a phenomenal outing in game 1 going 7 innings, allowing only 7 hits, recording an unearned run and 6 K’s on 102 pitches. Medlen’s ability to locate his pitches was fooling hot Pittsburgh bats. Once Medlen left the game, the bullpen gave up a run, but was otherwise solid. Going into the series with Pittsburgh, the bullpen had a streak of 20 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. As was previously mentioned, that streak included 3 perfect innings of relief in Sunday’s game against the Nationals.

    Jason Heyward’s bat came alive in the first game of the series. He and Andrelton Simmons both recorded 2 hits and scored a run. And B.J. Upton may have recorded a strikeout and no hits, but he did make it on base 3 times. There is certainly hope of late with B.J.’s swing.

    Game 2:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
    Pirates 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 5 1
    Braves 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 5 10 1

    W: Varvaro (3-0) L: Melancon (1-1)

    When Mike Minor allowed a solo shot to the Pirates’ Sanchez, it was the first homer he’d allowed since surrendering 6 of them in 4 starts stretching from April 28th to May 13th. This is the tale of Minor’s season, really. He and Julio Teheran have truly been the rock solid portion of the rotation for the Braves in the first two months of the season. Minor continues to impress Fredi Gonzalez with his confidence on the mound and continues to impress the league with the number of strikeouts he is able to record in each outing.

    Though the offense wasn’t enough to get Minor the win, there were great signs in the walk-off win. Dan Uggla has his first multi-hit game since May 24th. Getting Uggla’s bat hot would go a long way in terms of supporting pitchers like Medlen and Maholm who haven’t received quite enough run support in their outings. Another highlight came via the bullpen. After the homer by Alvarez in the 4th inning, the pitching staff really buckled down. Jordan Walden pitched a perfect 8th inning and in 11 pitches, Anthony Varvaro pitched a perfect 10th inning when the Braves really needed it. Of course the biggest highlight for the Braves in the 10-inning battle with the Pirates was the walk-off single that scored Dan Uggla. It was Andrelton Simmons’ first walk-off hit in his young career.

    Game 3:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    Pirates 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
    Braves 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 x 5 7 0

    W: Teheran (4-2) L: Rodriguez (6-4)

    Going into the third game of the series, the Braves had the second-best record in baseball at 36-22. They were able to expand their lead on the Washington Nationals in the NL East by 5 1/2 games, but while the Braves were pulling away from the Nats, the Phillies passed the Nats by a 1/2 game in the standings. They are now just 1 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals who hold the best record.

    The standings mattered very little when Julio Teheran took the mound in the finale. Before an afternoon crowd at Turner Field, it was clear early on that Teheran had something special going against the Pirates. His fastball had late life on it, his pitches were nailing the spots catcher Gerald Laird was calling for and his poise on the mound resembled that of a veteran ace. The 22-year-old showed why it was important for the Braves to hang with him as he struggled in the early going last season with the big league club.

     

    Teheran took a no-no into the 8th inning. His first attempt at a no-hitter was blown after 7 2/3 innings when Brandon Inge laced a drive down the right field line. Teheran’s 7 2/3 innings of hitless baseball added to an impressive season. He has now gone 8+ innings in 2 of his 15 big league starts. And each time he goes out there, Teheran has the potential and the arsenal to go deep in a game. You can count on the fact that this won’t be the last time we see Teheran throw a gem like this.

    The Braves didn’t need much by way of offense, but they had contributions from some of the more unlikely guys in the lineup. Andrelton Simmons led off an inning for the Braves 10 times in the 33 innings of the Braves/Pirates series. This is precisely what Fredi Gonzalez is looking for in a lead-off man and what he never got from B.J. Upton. Simmons leading off bodes well for the Braves. In addition to this, the Braves saw some pop off the bat of Gerald Laird. He and Evan Gattis went back-to-back with homers against the Pirates. It was the sixth time Braves homered back-to-back this season. For Laird, it was his 1st homer since May 28, 2012 while with the Detroit Tigers.

    It’s important to note just how special the rapport is that Gerald Laird has built with young Julio Teheran. It is clear watching the two in a game that Teheran trusts Laird’s judgement and follows his lead. This battery has been brilliant all season and while there is certainly more offense to gain from putting Gattis or McCann behind the plate when Teheran is pitching, the role of Laird will turn out down the road to be very important in the development of Teheran.

    FRESH OFF SWEEP, BRAVES FLY TO LOS ANGELES…

    Following Teheran’s impressive 7 2/3 innings of no-hit pitching Wednesday, the possibility of Teheran being the odd man out when Brandon Beachy returns from the disabled list later this month. He and Mike Minor have been the most consistent pitchers in the rotation. Currently, both Mike Minor and Kris Medlen are in the top 20 in baseball in ERA (Minor 9th with a 2.52 ERA and Medlen 20th with a 3.14 ERA). Paul Maholm is too valuable as a starter to be sent to the ‘pen as a situational reliever or even a long man. The work that was put into moving Medlen into the rotation as well as his strength as a starter, despite his misleading win-loss record, doesn’t suggest he would be the obvious choice to send to the ‘pen when Beachy returns, either. Ace Tim Hudson certainly isn’t going anywhere, though his outings have not been as strong as Atlanta would like. There is certainly the possibility that Beachy could stay in the ‘pen as Medlen did when he returned from Tommy John surgery. This would better enable the Braves to keep an eye on his inning count, preserving him for the postseason. There is no question that his return presents the toughest obstacle for Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez, but an obstacle that can only have positive results.

    Going into Los Angeles, the Braves face a team that is dealing with the disappointment of not being as good as they were made out to and paid to be. The Dodgers are currently last in the NL West, 9 games back in a division led by the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are below .500 with a record of 25-33. Their pitching is currently 7th in the National League in ERA. Luckily, the Braves will once again not have to face ace Clayton Kershaw on their trip to L.A. The Dodgers are currently 13th in the NL in runs scored with only the Nationals and Marlins behind them. Despite their lack of runs scored and winning, the Dodgers are 6th in the league in team batting average (compared to the Braves who are 11th).

    The Braves will miss Kershaw because of the pitching schedule, but they’ll also miss a handful of Dodgers due to injury. Capuano, Beckett, Billingsley, Crawford, Ellis and Kemp are all hurt. The Kemp injury is particularly good news to Tim Hudson who has been hit hard by Kemp over the years.

    Thursday night’s game at Chavez Ravine will feature ace Hudson (4-4, 4.80) vs. Greinke (2-1, 4.80). The second game of the series features Maholm (7-4, 3.68) vs. Ryu (6-2, 2.89). Game 3 of the 4-game set features Medlen (2-6, 3.14) vs. Fife (1-0, 4.50). The final game of the series against the Dodgers will be Minor (7-2, 2.52) vs. Lilly (0-2, 5.09).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#!/framethepitch">@framethepitch.

    Braves sweep homestand, head to the Big Apple

    "Bear" Gattis' heroics helped the Braves sweep their 6-game homestand.

    “Bear” Gattis’ heroics helped the Braves sweep their 6-game homestand.

    With back-to-back sweeps of the Dodgers and the Twins, the Braves face off against an old nemesis, the New York Mets, this weekend with nothing but confidence. As they displayed in the final game of the series, the Braves can put all of their bench players in the lineup to give some of the regular starters a rest and they still dominate. They’ve proven time and time again that they can send anyone from their ace Tim Hudson to the rookie Julio Teheran to the mound and get results. They’re gaining confidence in the new-look bullpen, with Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro picking up more and more of the work and Cory Gearrin coming into his own as one of the better relievers in the National League. Right now, despite adversity, the Braves are winning baseball games and reminding the rest of the league that they are a force to be reckoned with.

    In game 1 of the series, Julio Teheran went to the mound and showed the Twins that he may not be the most talked about rookie in the game, but he has the stuff to get any batter out. Now with a 3-1 record and a quickly dropping 3.99 ERA, his wins are more reliable and predictable than even those of Kris Medlen. Teheran pitched 8 2/3 innings, giving up only 1 run on 5 hits. The only run he surrendered was a solo homer. He walked only 1 batter and struck out 4. Teheran’s pitching gem was backed by a 3-RBI game for Dan Uggla who smashed a home run off Kevin Correia. And Cory Gearrin secured his first save of the season.

    In game 2 of the series, Tim Hudson battled the elements. Huddy threw 43 pitches before the teams were forced to leave the field for a 76-minute rain delay. Though Hudson was able to continue pitching after the delay, his start was shortened to 5 innings. His 5 innings were solid with only 2 earned runs. Hudson’s home ERA dropped to 2.84 (in comparison to his road ERA that is sitting at an ugly 7.36). In one of those strange happenings of baseball, Gearrin blew the save and then closer Craig Kimbrel entered the game to recording the win. The ‘pen was less than effective, allowing the same amount of runs as Hudson in 1 inning fewer. However, the Braves were able to get away with the win, increasing their winning streak to 5 games. Other highlights of game 2: Brian McCann hit his 4th home run of the season (4 of his 10 hits in 37 at-bats have been home runs) and Evan Gattis launched a pinch hit homer in the 9th to tie the gave for the Braves.

    Game 3 of the series was one of the most exciting, if not lopsided, in recent weeks. Putting together a roster of mostly bench players, Fredi Gonzalez reaped the rewards of fabulous offense from Evan Gattis, Jordan Schafer and Chris Johnson. He once again got to see the defensive might of Chris Johnson at third base. If there remained any doubt on the part of Gonzalez as to which player should receive the majority of the playing time, hopefully Fredi took note of just how well Chris Johnson played in the finale. Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer now have the best averages and on-base percentages of the team. The biggest blow to the Twins came off the bat than, of course, Evan Gattis. Gattis hit his first career grand slam in the 4th inning to give the Braves an 8-0 lead. It was the 10th home run for Gattis, 3 of those pinch hit homers. He is tied for 4th in the National League in homers, quite a feat given that the others in the top 10 have at least 20 more at-bats than him. Gattis homered not long in the 4th inning after B.J. Upton homered for the first time in a game in which brother Justin didn’t. Chris Johnson’s double following the Gattis grand slam knocked starter Vance Worley out of the game. Cory Rasmus made his debut out of the ‘pen after Paul Maholm went 7 1/3 innings giving up only 1 unearned run. Rasmus gave up 2 additional runs, but the Braves’ cushion of 5 runs easily gave them the 8-3 victory.

    BRAVES FACE OFF IN FLUSHING…

    With the new interleague setup in 2013, essentially an interleague game being played every day, the schedule is even more unusual this season than before. The coming road series is case in point. The Braves will face the Mets at Citi Field for a 3-game weekend series and then they fly to Toronto for 2 games against the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays will then follow the Braves south to complete their 4-game tilt, the remaining 2 games at Turner Field. How that makes any sense, only MLB’s front office knows.

    By way of an update on injuries, Brandon Beachy will make another rehab start today in Gwinnett. He remains on track to join the club in June. Fredi Gonzalez has said that Jordan Walden will not be ready to come of the disabled list on Monday as played. He needs a few more innings of work in the minors as well as a bullpen session. And Cristhian Martinez remains at extended Spring Training in Florida where he is rebuilding arm strength. A time table for his return has not yet been determined.

    Against the Mets, the Braves will send the back end of the rotation to the mound. Tonight’s game will feature Medlen (1-5, 3.02) vs. Hefner (0-5, 5.00). Saturday’s game will feature Minor (5-2, 2.78) vs. Gee (2-5, 6.04). The series finale Sunday will feature rookie Teheran (3-1, 3.99) vs. Marcum (0-5, 6.59).

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch" href="https://twitter.com/#!/framethepitch">@framethepitch.