We apparently didn’t scare Kent off last time around so he’s back with more content for us. Once again, you can follow Kent on Twitter @FriedBasballATL.
After the addition of three quality starters, the new look Atlanta starting rotation has been the hot topic of conversation among Braves fans. But with as much depth as they now have in their rotation, the bullpen appears to be even deeper. With a number of Braves hurlers already in Orlando, we take a look at the relief corps the Braves are likely to carry to Atlanta roughly 6 weeks from today. We start this two-part series by looking at the definites and the probables for this year’s bullpen.
DEFINITE (barring injuries/setbacks): Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan
PROBABLE: Blaine Boyer, Manny Acosta
POSSIBLE: Jorge Campillo, Jeff Bennett, Buddy Carlyle, Phil Stockman, Eric O’Flaherty, Boone Logan, Jeff Ridgway
Mike Gonzalez has quietly become one of the game’s elite closers, carrying a (then major league best) 39 consecutive saves streak into last season after returning from “Tommy John” surgery. The lefty fire-baller featured a mid-to-upper 90′s heater while closing for the Pirates. Since his arrival in Atlanta two years ago, however, his arm that was never entirely healthy or rested, and his fastball topped out at about 93 mph. Despite diminished velocity, “Gonzo” has been effective, with a 3.38 ERA as a Brave, converting 16 of 18 save opportunities.
After his first full off-season since beginning his rehabilitation in 2007, his arm is now 100%, and Gonzalez says he’s “fired up” about the opportunity to finally show Atlanta his very best. With health no longer a concern, look for a big season from the Braves’ closer.
Rafael Soriano, when healthy, is among the best late-inning relievers in baseball. Since his move to the bullpen at that start of his sophomore season in 2003, Soriano has a career ERA of 2.53, with more strikeouts than innings pitched. In a word: Dominant.
Soriano began experiencing pain in his pitching elbow last spring which eventually cost him most of the 2008 season. Fortunately, the cause of the pain was not a structural issue within his elbow. Soriano underwent surgery last fall to reposition a nerve that was apparently the cause of the discomfort. MLB’s Mark Bowman recently reported that, “all indications are that Soriano is healthy”. That’s excellent news for Braves fans.
Peter Moylan was the only pleasant surprise of the 2007 season. Over 80 appearances, Molyan limited opposing hitters to a .208 average, and allowed only 16 earned runs for a 1.80 ERA. It was the third best ERA in all of baseball, and it was the first sub-2.00 ERA to come out of the Atlanta bullpen over a full season since John Smoltz did it in 2003.
Moylan’s stuff is outstanding, but what makes him truly remarkable is that he fires his mid 90′s fastball, baffling changeup, and hard-biting slider with a submarine delivery. Many submarine/sidearm pitchers develop a deceptive pitching motion to compensate for a lack of overwhelming natural ability. Not so in Moylan’s case. His stuff, coupled with a submarine delivery, seems almost unfair.
After experiencing elbow pain last spring, he made it only 2 weeks into the season before joining the expansive disabled list. He underwent “Tommy John” surgery shortly thereafter. Moylan is reportedly ahead of schedule with his rehabilitation, and could be ready for action on opening day. Like Soriano, if healthy, Moylan is one of the best late-inning relievers in the game.
Blaine Boyer has been described by scouts, coaches, and teammates as a talented young pitcher with “closer’s stuff”. Boyer features a heater that pops the mitt in the mid-to-upper 90′s, and a (at times) knee-buckling 12-6 curveball. Boyer was thrust into a key late-inning role after Peter Moylan and Rafael Soriano were lost to injuries, and he responded well to the challenge. Through the end of June, Boyer posted a very solid 3.63 ERA. However, after notching nearly 45 innings by the half-way point of the season, he appeared to “hit a wall”, and struggled throughout the second half.
John Smoltz is a big Blaine Boyer believer. He has raved about Boyer’s potential, and spent most of the winter training with him. And “Smoltzy” isn’t the only one ready to buy stock in the 6′ 3″ right-hander. Everyone within the Braves organization seems to think highly of Boyer. And he was rumored to be one of the pieces the Padres wanted in a potential Jake Peavy trade. With the depth of Atlanta’s bullpen this year, Boyer should benefit from less pressure and a reduced work load.
Manny Acosta is another hard-throwing young righty believed to have closer potential. Through 67 Major League games (2007, 2008), Acosta is owner of an outstanding 3.17 early career ERA. Like Boyer, Acosta features a fastball that rests in the mid 90′s. He struggles at times with his control, but if Manny can continue to develop his command of the strike zone, he could play a play a much larger role for the Braves in the near future. Either way, Acosta has already established himself as a valuable member of the Atlanta ‘pen’.
So there’s a quick look at what you can most likely expect to see as a large part of the Braves’ bullpen on opening day. Barring any unforseen circumstances and injuries, the bullpen has depth and is ready to get to work in the 2009 season. Are you happy with who we have? Wish things looked a little different? Look for the second half of the bullpen preview where we look into the people fighting for the last couple of spots in the bullpen to come tomorrow.
Tags: Blaine Boyer, Bullpen, Manny Acosta, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, Preview, Rafael Soriano
Posted in General | 4 Comments »
Today’s article is from a new guest writer, Kent Covington. We’re working on convincing Kent to write for us more often, so make him feel welcome. In the meantime, you can follow Kent on Twitter @FriedBasballATL. And while you’re at it, follow BravesBlast too @BravesBlast.
For the past two years, the Braves have reported to their spring training facilities at Disney’s Wide World of Sports with the hope and belief that their bullpen would be among the game’s best. And for the past two years, their hopes have been shattered. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, the Braves acquired one of the game’s elite setup men, Rafael Soriano, from Seattle, and a filthy (in a good way) young closer in the person of Mike Gonzalez, from the Pirates. Along with Bob Wickman, who was brilliant in Atlanta after a mid-season trade in 2006, the Braves were thought to have a bullpen trio capable of shortening any game to a 6-inning contest.
But before long, Atlanta’s bullpen plans began to skid off the runway. Mike Gonzalez’s season was cut short less than two months after opening day, as he was forced to go under the knife for “Tommy John” surgery. What’s more, Bob Wickman was unable to duplicate his 2006 success, and was eventually released by the Braves.
Not everything went awry in the ’07 bullpen. Soriano was as good as advertised and the emergence of Peter Moylan (1.80 ERA in 80 appearances) was certainly a pleasant surprise. Nevertheless, injuries to key relievers left the Braves with a shell of the dominant bullpen they planned to throw at opponents.
Fast forward to Spring 2008. The Braves had re-inked Soriano to a two-year deal over the winter and anticipated a bullpen headed by Soriano and Moylan. The two hard throwing relievers had combined for an ERA of 2.44 over 150 innings the previous season. And as soon as Mike Gonzalez returned to action, they thought they would have no fewer than three dominant relievers, as they had planned the year before. But the baseball gods again revealed other plans.
Soriano and Moylan both began complaining of elbow discomfort in spring training. Moylan made it less than two weeks into the season before being disabled (eventually undergoing “Tommy John” surgery). Soriano was forced out of action just one week from opening day. He would spend the remainder of the season on and off the disabled list (mostly on).
Mike Gonzalez’s successful comeback was a bright spot in what was otherwise the Braves’ most forgettable season in almost 20 years. But once again, the bullpen never possessed the kind of depth they were counting on.
Which brings us to 2009.
The calendar has flipped on a year that the Braves undoubtedly couldn’t put behind them quickly enough. And as pitchers and catchers prepare to report (except for those tied up with the damned World Baseball Classic – a topic for another day), the Braves once more hope to feature a bullpen capable of being baseball’s best.
If healthy, Atlanta may finally have their lights-out late-inning trio. And their relief talent runs deeper than what they have at the back of the ‘pen’. Much deeper. Next week we’ll break down the Braves’ bullpen, and explore what kind of relief they will have in ’09. That is, if they can avoid Murphy (no, not old #3 – the other Murphy… the one with that law).
So where does that leave us? Is the injury bug behind us and ready to let the bullpen actually prove their ability in pitching? Are there some unanswered holes in the bullpen? All I know is that I’m ready to put 2008 behind us and see what 2009 brings.
Tags: Bullpen, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano
Posted in General | 16 Comments »
Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Mike Gonzalez headlined the first day of Camp Roger, the early pitching camp at Turner Field. The program got underway on Friday and is overseen by pitching coach Roger McDowell. If you’re a Braves fan, I won’t need to tell you that Camp Roger is a continuation of Camp Leo, a program begun under Leo Mazzone.
Hanson pitched Friday for the first time as Cox and crew looked on, and Cox was impressed. He sounded like he expects Hanson to join the team either out of spring training or midseason – and he’s anticipating success when it happens. “Good looking kid,” Cox mused. Hanson is ready for it; he knows that in the end, all he has to go out there and throw the ball and prove his value to the Braves.
Mike Gonzalez is rip roaring and ready to go – enjoying what he called his first “normal” offseason. He pointed out that he hasn’t had an opportunity to pitch at 100% in Atlanta and is looking forward to showing off an improved changeup this season.
Tim Hudson is hoping to make his first throws off a mound later this week. He’s 5 months into what will be 12 month of rehab after Tommy John surgery that cut short his 2008 season. He will hopefully be back in time for the end of the season this year. He also cleared up any talk about not wanting the Braves to pick up his 2010 option. He’s hopeful that his pitching is impressive enough that the Braves will want to pick up the option and he looks forward to helping get the Braves back into the playoffs.
Also joining camp were Blaine Boyer, Stephen Marek, Anthony Lerew, and Eric O’Flaherty. Kenshin Kawakami is working out his visa and hopes to join before Friday, but the remaining three starting pitchers had not joined the voluntary camp yet. More updates as we hear them!
Tags: Camp, Camp Roger, Mike Gonzalez, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson
Posted in General | 6 Comments »
The Braves made a move yesterday to avoid arbitration for the 2009 season with Mike Gonzalez by signing him to a one-year, $3.45 million contract. The Braves are looking for Gonzalez to serve as the closer for the 2009 season, filling a position that has lacked consistency and stability over the past few years. Last season alone, Soriano, Smoltz, Gonzalez and a host of other fill-ins took their shots at the role. While Gonzalez isn’t the true definition of a power closer, a constant figure in the position will prove well for the Braves.
After returning from Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2008 season, Gonzalez had 14 saves in 16 opportunities while striking out 44 in his 33.2 innings pitched. Of a little concern however is the 6 home runs that he issued in that work as well. His 4.28 ERA last season isn’t exactly what you want to see out of a closer and hopefully this season he can get back around and under his career average of 2.62.
While returning from surgery last season, Gonzalez struggled to find the full strength in his arm at times, but is hoping to regain the consistency in his arm through his work this offseason and the upcoming preseason. He has always been a strikeout pitcher, with a 1.16 K per inning average and could prove to be a great asset down the stretch should the Braves continue to find themselves in the onslaught of one- and two-run games they did last season.
This leaves Casey Kotchman, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur as the only three remaining arbitration-eligible players. I’m hoping Gonzalez can pitch a consistent and injury-free season to help keep the bullpen on track. It seems that the Braves develop injury issues at the closer position every season and the pen slowly degrades from there. So are you happy to see Gonzalez locked in for the season to fill the closer role? Who takes the reins should he develop any injuries throughout the season?
Tags: Atlanta Braves Bullpen, Bullpen, Closer, Mike Gonzalez
Posted in Roster Moves | 24 Comments »
All indications are pointing towards the Braves taking a passive approach to the non-waiver trade deadline. Here are the Braves related notes I have been hearing as of this morning:
- Mike Gonzalez - The Braves closer has received interest from the Texas Rangers organization. The Rangers, in desperate need of bullpen help would be willing to trade an outfielder for Gonzalez. Outfielders could include David Murphy, Frank Catalanotto, Brandon Boggs or Marlon Byrd. While the Braves need an outfielder, it would be unwise to sell Gonzalez at this low of a price. He has a top-5 closer ceiling, it would be painful to see that production in another organization. Murphy and a top prospect might get the trade done however. For those who do not know David Murphy yet — he is a hard-nosed player that pounds the gaps hard. He will not be an all-star but has some above-average years in him. The rest of that crew would not be an attractive solution to our problems with outfield power.
- Mark Teixeira – The Braves have apparently started to seriously consider moving Teixeira. CBS Sportsline has a report up stating that the Braves have made a list that includes Boston, Los Angeles (AL), Tampa Bay, and Arizona of potential trading partners. These are four organizations with deep minor league systems that could really turn into a bidding war if two or more organizations get involved in this deal. I don’t see how Tampa Bay is interested in this because they have a long term commitment to Carlos Pena who has power and plays great defense, much like Teixeira. Putting one of the two at DH would be a detriment to those two players. A new rumor that was floating around is Robb Quinlan and Brandon Wood of the Angels to the Braves for Teixeira. That is a terrible offer if that is indeed the truth. Quinlan is a career bench player and Wood’s star has burned a lot dimmer in recent years since hitting 43 home runs in 2005 at High-A Ranco Cucamonga. Also, where does Wood fit on this team? He is a third-baseman/shortstop. There isn’t a place for him this season. Los Angeles would be a lot closer offering Casey Kotchmann and Juan Rivera.
- Tim Hudson – His name has been mentioned once, but it is highly doubtful that the Braves would be interested in moving their ace.
- Mark Kotsay – He has just this year left on his contract but has played well despite some injuries. I have doubts that they could get much for him – but you never know.
- Will Ohman – This is a name that may be mentioned more frequently over the next few days. While I have not heard of any specific deals in which Ohman might be involved in, he has put together a great season and is a lefty. I can’t imagine anything that might make him more attractive.
- Jeff Francoeur was mentioned by Braves.com today in trade rumors – though this may be shocking to some people, he’s not doing well at all. The Royals may be interested – their GM was formerly in the Braves organization.
It may be 4:01 on July 31st when the baseball world finally knows what the Braves intentions were for this trade season. Rumors will continue to flutter around and we may not know what’s going on until it happens.
- Dan & Colin
Tags: Jeff Francoeur, Mark Kotsay, Mark Teixeiar, Mike Gonzalez, Tim Hudson, Will Ohman
Posted in General, Speculation | 14 Comments »
Back in February, I wrote a post called “5 Keys to 2008 Bullpen Success” and identified five points I thought would be crucial to have a successful bullpen. Let’s see how the bullpen has done compared to those five points.
#1 – Rafael Soriano is lights out as closer.
#2 – Peter Moylan eats up innings – and stays effective.
#3 – Will Ohman fills the left-handed setup role.
#4 – The emergence of an effective long-reliever.
#5 – The healthy return of Blaine Boyer and Mike Gonzalez.
Well, I got three out of five right. Ohman has been great, and Boyer and Gonzalez have been healthy, but Soriano hasn’t seen much time and Moylan is out recovering from Tommy John surgery.
And yet the Braves’ bullpen is one of the best in the NL – we have the third best ERA (3.22) and the best Batting Average Against (or BAA at .224). We’ve also give up the third fewest runs in the NL. Our BAA is second only to the Tampa Bay
This is thanks in no small part to Will Ohman, Blaine Boyer, and Manny Acosta. For the crap we give Bobby for over-using Acosta, Manny is a really good pitcher when he’s not overused. The return of Mike Gonzalez has been crucial to a stable back end of the ‘pen, and we should see that get even stronger as Rafael Soriano nears his return.
As we head into the second half of the season, our bullpen has to continue to impress to give us a chance for our hitting to win us some games. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’d say we’re in a good spot and on a good track.
Who’s the most indispensable arm in the bullpen so far?
Edit: You just can’t make this stuff up…It seems Mike Hampton tweaked his hamstring after 2 IP in his latest rehab start, you just have to feel for the guy. He gave up one home run, no word on the severity of his injury yet. More details later.
Edit2: He tweaked his groin in the first inning and pitched a second, still no word on the severity, but said his super-surgically repaired arm felt great.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Braves Bullpen, Blaine Boyer, Bullpen, Manny Acosta, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Will Ohman
Posted in General | 12 Comments »
John Smoltz pitched an inning for the AA Mississippi Braves last night, giving up one hit and most importantly feeling no pain. Smoltz recently pitched a session in Atlanta to his teammates, where he revealed his way of dealing with his recent shoulder issues. He’s dropped his arm slot, but hasn’t lost effectiveness. He threw 12 pitches in his inning of work, 8 of them strikes. Smoltz has successfully changed the angle of his arm slot in the past, throwing sidearm in the late ’90s.
Smoltz arrives back in Atlanta today to be re-evaluated. He may continue his rehab stint but he could also be activated from the DL soon. He’ll pitch out of the bullpen, likely closing games for the Braves. Smoltz has been in the role before, with 154 saves from 2001-2004.
Smoltz will be part of a trio of pitchers that will greatly enhance the depth of the Braves already quality bullpen. Rafael Soriano, the intended closer at the start of the season, has been battling elbow tendinitis. Soriano pitched an inning for the Mississippi Braves on Friday, and could be activated either today or tomorrow. He’s hitting 93 with his fastball, which is good news.
Mike Gonzalez had Tommy John surgery last year and is nearing return as well. He’s a dominant lefty that the Braves got from the Pirates for Adam LaRoche. It may take him some time to regain pre-surgery form, but with Smoltz and Soriano he could make a huge difference. Even the players are excited about it – the AJC quoted Brian McCann as saying “You get Smoltz and Soriano back, and Gonzo, it’s going to be nasty. Those are guys who’ve done it before, and we’ve got guys like Blaine and Acosta who’ve filled in and done an awesome job.”
If you think the bullpen is nasty now, give it two weeks.
Tags: John Smoltz, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano
Posted in Injuries | 8 Comments »
There are a lot of little stories going on about the Braves recently, but nothing that really warrants a full article, so I’m just going to throw them together and make an article out of it:
Smoltz, Soriano, Gonzalez – Bobby Cox believes that all three of these guys could be off the disabled list and in the bullpen in the next two weeks. Smoltz has been rather quiet about the condition of his shoulder. Soriano has made the first of two planned rehab assignments in AA Mississippi. Gonzalez has been throwing in extended spring training and is expected to be evaluated in Atlanta next week in preparation for rehab assignments. These three will change the face of our bullpen a lot; the question at this point is, who will be moved to make room on the roster?
Yunel Escobar – Yunel missed last night’s game against the Mets after a collision with Ryan Church on the last out of the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Escobar still has some pain and swelling below his knee and is questionable for tonight’s game. He’s currently planning on being back for the wrap-around series against the Diamondbacks this weekend.
Chipper Jones – After taking a pitch of the shin in last night’s game, Chipper is experiencing a bit of soreness but says that it feels a lot better today than it did as he left the game yesterday, hardly able to put any weight on it. He’s questionable tonight, but we need him in the game. We all know how the offense performs when he’s out of the lineup. Losing Chipper and Escobar against the Mets seems common this season.
Turner Field Death – As we talked about through the night, Justin Hayes has died from the injuries suffered in his 150-foot fall from the stairwell in Turner Field last night. As part of the Braves community, we are saddened by this news and offer our condolences to his family and friends. This is the first non-medical death at Turner Field since it was constructed for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Hank Aaron Is Awesome - Just to reiterate the fact that I think Hank Aaron is one of the greatest baseball players ever, I’ve decided to close this article with a recent Aaron quote. “But seriously, I think Bonds has done wonderfully. I think he had a marvelous career. I had it for a long time. Seven-fifty-five was there for a long time.” Hank went on to say what we all already know is true, “I still consider myself the home-run king”.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Death, Hank Aaron, John Smoltz, Justin Hayes, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Yunel Escobar
Posted in General | 9 Comments »
When the Braves started the season, it seemed as if their impenetrable depth in the starting pitching spot would be their greatest strength. Now, heading into the second half of May, it has already become a weakness. Yes, I know we lead the league in starter’s ERA, but it’s a very deceiving stat in that our starters have only pitched 225 innings, 14th in the NL (St. Louis leads the league with 266.1 and Philly comes in second at 256.0 for comparisons).
Does that take away anything from our accomplishment so far? Not necessarily. It does, however, bring about the question of how long can the bullpen keep up their routine. Yes, eventually Smoltz, Soriano and Gonzalez will return and give us probably the best finishers in the league, but until then? And what about after that? What happens to our middle relief? Acosta, Boyer, Ohman and the others can only go so far. Especially Acosta, who has never pitched a full season in the majors and may hit a wall.
Going back to the starters. At the beginning the season, the Braves touted one of the deepest starting pitching crops of any team in the majors and looked to be getting back to their old ways of being the pitching premium. Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, Jurrjens, Hampton, James, Reyes, Carlyle and Bennett among others that were potential starters.
Smoltz went down in spring training with a shoulder injury that never really fully recovered, and may not. It’s an injury that will linger throughout the season. For Smoltz, though, the option of pitching out of the bullpen is still there and will probably become a reality. This will reduce the stress he puts on his shoulder as well as allow him time to recover between appearances.
And then our boy Hampton tries to go up the stairs without his bubble-wrap suit and yeah…gets hurt (kidding, he actually strained a pectoral muscle warming up in cold weather and strained it again on the 71st pitch of a rehab game). Thankfully, the Braves had options at that point.
Chuck James, a veteran with options who has won 10 games in each of the past two seasons as well as Jojo Reyes and Jeff Bennett. Bennett has been a solid replacement. Three times spot starting, all of his starts have been solid. Unfortunately, only one of those was a “quality start” (6 or more innings pitched, three or less earned runs allowed). For the Braves to be successful in the long run, quality starts are important. Two of last seasons top three quality starters (Huddy and Glavine) are in the rotation, while the other (Smoltzy) is moving to the bullpen. The AJC reported today that Bennett may be a potential replacement for James in the rotation. Updated: Campillo to get the start in James’ place in game 2 against the Mets.
Carlyle is sitting on the DL with a strained neck after running into a runner against San Diego. Jojo Reyes has been both solid and bad at times. Against San Diego, he gave up two runs, but walked two in 2 2/3 innings and had thrown 51 pitches to that point. Against Philly last Friday, Reyes cruised through the first three innings with no trouble. But really struggled with the middle of the order the second and third times around and ended up giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Braves are truly lucky to be sitting where they are, and with no one having run away with the division to this point, the Braves are primed for a run. Both Gonzalez and Soriano should be back before the end of the month and Smoltz not too far behind. Reyes is getting adjusted to the majors and Bennett/Campillo could be a solid tail end of the rotation. With the way John Schuerholz and Frank Wren prepared this team, they had injury problems at the front of their mind and truly did a strong job of getting together the right personnel to keep this team afloat.
Tags: Buddy Carlyle, Jeff Bennett, Jo-Jo Reyes, John Smoltz, Jorge Campillo, Mike Gonzalez
Posted in General | 4 Comments »
It has been a tough season on the injury-front for the Braves already this season, especially when we take a look at our pitching staff. I figured we could use today’s off-day to do a quick review of where we stand with a lot of the injuries that are plaguing the team on both sides of the ball thus far. We need most (and preferably all) of these guys healthy if we want to have a hope at returning to the playoffs this season:
Chipper Jones – Chipper missed the last two games with spasms in his lower back. This is a tricky injury that could be gone in a minute or stick around for a couple of weeks. Chipper’s tough though and if there’s any chance of him playing, he’s not going to miss a game. He’s still having some trouble rotating his body though, so we may see him miss another game or two. He should hopefully be back by the time the Braves return to Turner Field this weekend.
Yunel Escobar – Yunel cracked his fingernail trying to lay down a bunt in Friday night’s game and missed the games on Saturday and Sunday as a result. Bobby Cox said there’s an outside chance that we’ll see Yunel play Tuesday night. The swelling in his finger is going down but he’s still unable to really grip a bat and I’m sure he’ll be severely crippled by the injury in the field as well. I look for him to be back in the lineup by the time the Braves head back to Atlanta as well.
John Smoltz – Smoltz has been bothered off and on by soreness between his neck and shoulder. He was strong in his two previous starts before coming out of the game after only 3 innings yesterday. In his postgame interviews, Smoltz gave a less than positive impression of how he was feeling, saying that he doesn’t know if this is more than just muscle tightness. Losing Smoltz would be a huge blow to our already crippled pitching staff, but if a month on the DL would keep him healthier through the rest of the season, it’s for the best. I’m sure we’ll hear more on this soon as Smoltz may head back to Atlanta for medical evaluation.
Tom Glavine – Glavine’s expected to return from the disabled list to make his start this Tuesday. Tommy has been out for a couple of weeks after leaving a game in the first inning with tightness in his hamstring. His stint on the DL has gone smoothly however and the Braves are confident that he’ll be ready to go against the Nationals tomorrow night.
Mike Hampton – How can there be an injury report without a man by the name of Mike Hampton. Hampton’s still looking to make his first start in the majors since 2005 after a slew of injuries. The latest was straining a pectoral muscle while warming up for a start at Turner Field earlier this season. Hampton made a start with AAA Richmond this past week and went three innings. I’d look for at least one more rehab start in Richmond before he heads back to Atlanta to make another attempt at starting. He joined up with the team in New York this past weekend however and spent some time playing catch pregame.
Peter Moylan – Losing Moylan for the remainder of the season is a scary prospect, but is highly likely at this point in time. Moylan is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a bone spur in his elbow that has compromised his UCL. Later this week, he will be reevaluated to make a determination as to whether or not he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament. I say that if this is the determination that is made, they shouldn’t waste any time in getting the surgery done to give Moylan as much time to recover as possible. Tommy John usually requires a year at the minimum for recovery and rehab.
Mike Gonzalez – Gonzalez made an appearance in extended spring training last week throwing 12 pitches. He still has a ways to go to be ready to pitch in the majors, but hopefully after a month or so more of rehab, we’ll be able to look to him to take a spot in the bullpen.
Rafael Soriano – Soriano’s elbow troubles continue to plague him. When his stint on the 15-day disabled list was over, he was definitely not ready to come back to pitch. We need Soriano healthy to take his spot as the closer, especially with Moylan down and out as well. We’ll have to rely on Acosta for now until we get Soriano back. Soriano threw a bullpen session last week and experienced some lingering discomfort in the elbow, but will continue to try throwing over the next week.
So there are the current injuries that are hampering the team. On the offensive side, we desperately need Chipper and Yunel back in the lineup as they are great producers on that side of the ball. Most of our problems lie in pitching however; 3 of our 5 starters are on this list as well as a number of key bullpen members. Without pitching, we’re not going to go very far this season.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Injury, John Smoltz, Mike Gonzalez, Mike Hampton, Peter Moylan, Rafael Soriano, Tom Glavine, Yunel Escobar
Posted in Injuries | 15 Comments »