Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, both Atlanta Braves starting pitchers, hurt their arms on consecutive days in spring 2014, necessitating a second Tommy John surgery for each. According to Jon Roegele’s comprehensive spreadsheet of TJ procedures, the Round 2s for Medlen and Beachy were performed three days apart. (Though by different doctors. Medlen went with James Andrews, Beachy with Neal ElAttrache.)
The recovery period for TJ is between 12 and 18 months. For Medlen and Beachy, it’s approaching 16 months. Sure enough, both are in line to return to the majors soon, neither as a Brave. (Thanks to J.J. Jansons of Baseball Prospectus for his informative “Stash List.”)
Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has identified Beachy as a candidate to start Saturday’s game against Milwaukee.
Beachy has made five minor-league starts for the Dodgers, working 18 2/3 innings while yielding 18 hits and 10 walks. (This against 12 strikeouts.) His ERA is 2.45. In his last start, Beachy threw 92 pitches, somewith apparent oomph, per Eric Stephen of truebluela.
Medlen has made four minor-league starts for the Royals, working 17 2/3 innings while yielding 18 hits and three walks. He has been touched for five home runs and hit four batters. His ERA is 4.58. This week Jeffrey Flanagan of the Kansas City Star tweeted:
The Braves cut Medlen and Beachy on the same day — Dec. 2, 2014 — because they weren’t sure what they’d be getting if they kept them. Guys tend to do well after Round 1 of TJ; they do much less well after Round 2. (Think Jonny Venters.) There’s thought that a guy coming off a second TJ won’t hold up as a starter, that any future will have to be as a reliever. (Think Jason Isringhausen, who went from being a promising starter to a splendid closer until he hurt his arm yet again.)
Had the Braves retained Medlen and Beachy, they’d have been obliged to pay at least $5.8 million — and perhaps much more, seeing as both were arbitration-eligible — for two suspect arms. Not that those arms hadn’t done terrific work here. In 2012, Medlen was 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and an 0.913 WHIP. He didn’t make his first start of that season until July 31 because he was recovering from TJ Take 1, and a spot in the rotation was available in part because Beachy, who’d been leading the majors with a 2.00 ERA, was lost to TJ Take 1 on June 16.
Beachy signed with the Dodgers for one year at $2.75 million with a club option for next season. Medlen signed with the Royals for $2 million this season and $5.5 million next, with a mutual option for 2017. You can’t blame the rebuilding Braves for not wanting to commit such money to two guys who wouldn’t have been available until midsummer and whose health comes with no guarantees. (Not that anyone’s health ever does.)
But you’d have to say the two were most astute in picking their next teams. The Dodgers and Royals are in first place. The Dodgers and Royals also have holes in their rotations. There’s a chance we’ll be hearing a lot more about Beachy and Medlen before this season is done.