Brandon Beachy has made just five starts since returning from Tommy John Surgery, but the right-hander could be facing yet another structural problem with his surgically repaired elbow. Beachy experienced a serious – and sudden – drop in velocity during his latest start on Tuesday. The news became even more discouraging for the Atlanta Braves early Thursday evening. The team announced that Beachy is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Mike Minor will start in his place on Sunday.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution later added news that Beachy had already undergone an MRI exam on Wednesday, suggesting a reason for concern given how quickly Beachy is returning to see Dr. Andrews once again. No specifics have yet been released, but there appears to be a fair amount of concern that the 26 year old may have done some significant damage to his elbow once again.
The concern originated late in Beachy’s start on Tuesday. He’d cruised through five innings against the New York Mets – Atlanta’s unintentional injury magnet this season, it would seem – but hit a wall to start the sixth inning. He’d give up four runs in the frame before coming out of the game, but most concerning were the reports that his fastball had dropped all the way to 82 MPH. Beachy may not be the hardest thrower in all of baseball, but he regularly sits in the lower 90s. He came off the mound, noting to coaches that his “elbow just didn’t feel right” and pointing out that his final pitch – clocked at 85 MPH – had been a fastball. The team immediately had him go for an MRI that next day.
Few expected that Beachy would be a significant difference maker for the Braves upon his return – though even fewer could have expected that the team would be dealing with the injuries that have plagued them on the year – but it appears that they might not be getting much more out of him in 2013. He’s made 46 starts over parts of the past four seasons – totaling a 14-11 record, 3.23 ERA, 1.132 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and 9.2 K/9 in 267.2 IP.
He’s been impressive when healthy, but there have to be concerns about Beachy’s future with this latest news. It’s all speculation at this point, but a second major surgery on his arm could make a huge impact on what kind of pitcher he is if he’s able to return.