Braves face tough decision when Brandon Beachy returns

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Brandon Beachy hasn’t pitched since June 16 last season. He felt soreness in his right elbow and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery, ending his season and significantly cutting into his 2013 hopes. Nearly a full year later, though, Beachy is nearing a return. He has made two rehab starts with Triple-A Gwinnett spanning nine innings, striking out 11 and walking six while surrendering three runs. He will make one more rehab start before being recalled to start one of the double-header games against the Mets on June 18.

As David O’Brien notes in a column posted earlier today, the Braves could use the 26th-man rule that allows teams to temporarily add an extra player for double-headers. However, that would only temporarily address the issue of finding room for Beachy in the rotation. It’s a decision that has Fredi Gonzalez pacing.

“I don’t know — that’s my honest-to-God answer,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday. “I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer right now. And I don’t want to say, ‘Let’s see what happens,’ because people think, ‘Fredi’s hoping somebody gets hurt.’ And I don’t want that. I want everybody to be pitching healthy and then we’ve got to come up with some kind of plan. But right now we don’t have a plan.”

O’Brien points out that the Brave rotation has been running on all cylinders, particularly as of late. Tim Hudson, the veteran of the staff but the worst-performing with a 4.48 ERA, has shown marked improvement in his most recent two starts. The other four have posted ERA’s under 3.50, including Mike Minor (2.52) and Kris Medlen (2.87), who have been ace-like.

An obvious solution would be to trade either Hudson or Paul Maholm, as both are eligible for free agency after the season. But doing so would require the Braves to have to rely on Beachy’s surgically-repaired elbow during an important post-season series, which would be a gamble right now.

Though somewhat stressful, having too many awesome pitchers is a wonderful problem to have for the 39-24 Braves, currently enjoying an 8.5-game first-place lead in the NL East.

Masahiro Tanaka throws a Maddux

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You do know what a Maddux is, right? In case you forgot, it’s a complete game shutout in which the starter throws fewer than 100 pitches. Friend of HBT Jason Lukehart invented that little metric and, because Greg Maddux is my favorite player ever, it’s pretty much my favorite stat ever.

In the Yankees-Red Sox game tonight it was Masahiro Tanaka doing the honors, tossing 97-pitch three-hitter in which he only allowed one runner to reach second base to beat Boston 3-0. He only struck out three but he didn’t walk anyone. He retired the last 14 batters he faced.

Chris Sale was no slouch himself, striking out ten in eight innings. He’s pitched great this year but he’s not getting any help. The Sox have only scored four runs in his five starts. Boston has scored only 13 runs in their last seven games. They’ve been shut out three times in the past seven. They scored more runs than anyone last year, by the way.

The game only took two hours and twenty-one minutes. Or, like, half the time of a Yankees-Red Sox game in the early 2000s. Progress, people. We’re making progress.

Shelby Miller has a tear in his UCL, considering Tommy John surgery

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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller has a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and is considering undergoing Tommy John surgery. Surgery would end Miller’s 2017 season and would cut into a significant portion — if not all — of his 2018 season as well.

Miller sent his MRI results to Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. James Andrews for second and third opinions, respectively. He could choose to rehab his elbow rather than undergo surgery, but that comes with its own set of positives and negatives.

Miller lasted only four-plus innings in his most recent start on Sunday and carries a 4.09 ERA on the season, his second with the Diamondbacks. His time in Arizona has not gone well.