The Braves bolstered their suddenly shaky rotation earlier this week when they signed right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million contract, but general manager Frank Wren told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal this morning via phone that he isn’t planning to add another starter even with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy potentially headed for another Tommy John surgery.
“Right now, we plan on going with what we have,” Wren said. “We like what we have.”
Which means the Braves appear content relying on Julio Teheran, Freddy Garcia, Alex Wood, and David Hale to hold down the fort for now. The hope is that Santana will be game-ready by the time the Braves need a fifth starter for the first time. Mike Minor, who had a urinary tract procedure in late December and dealt with shoulder soreness upon reporting to camp, could be ready to join the rotation by mid-April.
There should be more help on the way soon. Gavin Floyd, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Braves over the winter, is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon surgery. Wren said he has been “extremely impressive” during his rehab and could join the rotation in mid-May.
The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.
Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.
They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.
The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.