The Braves’ vaunted rotation depth will be tested in April, as Tim Hudson expects to miss at least the first month of the season following back surgery on Nov. 28.
Hudson hoped to avoid the surgery and thus didn’t have it until two months after the Braves wrapped their 2011 season. That delay will cost the team in 2012.
“Me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility, just from a timeline standpoint,” Hudson said. “The kind of surgery I had is a three-to-sixth-month deal. Five months puts me at May 1.”
Hudson likely would have replaced Derek Lowe as the Braves’ Opening Day starter if healthy. Now that nod could go to Jair Jurrjens, though Jurrjens too is coming off an injury. If things go as hoped, Atlanta will have a rotation of Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran initially. Kris Medlen is another candidate to step in, but the Braves would prefer to leave him in the bullpen.
Hudson went 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA in 215 innings for the Braves last season. He’s owed $9 million this year in the final guaranteed season of his contract, but barring a meltdown, his $9 million option for 2013 will surely be exercised.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.