Tag:Brandon Beachy
Posted on: September 4, 2011 9:42 pm

3 to Watch: The return of Strasburg edition

Stephen Strasburg returns to the major leagues Tuesday night, and as interesting as it will be to see how he pitches, it'll be even more interesting to see if the buzz is back.

Can he make us care, the way he did last year? Can he make us ask every day, "Is Strasburg pitching tonight?"

It's different, I know. He's been out for a year after Tommy John surgery. It's September, not June. He's only going to make four starts at a time when we're more focused on pennant races (if there are any) or football. He's going to be on a pitch limit even stricter than the one the Nationals held him to last year (and will be limited to four innings and 60 pitches in his debut, according to the Washington Post).

"I'm not going to win a Cy Young in four starts," Strasburg told reporters, according to MLB.com.

He didn't win a Cy Young last year. He was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, before hurting his elbow in August.

But we were fascinated by him, more than we've been fascinated by any player coming through the minor leagues. We couldn't wait for him to get to the majors, and when he got there, we couldn't wait for his every start.

His debut, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, was one of the biggest events of the entire season.

It won't be like that Tuesday. It can't be like that Tuesday.

According to the Nationals, there are still tickets available, although they say it should be a bigger crowd than they'd normally have for a September Tuesday against the Dodgers.

There is some anticipation. Strasburg's rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues made national news, and in those six starts he struck out 29 while walking just four.

In his last start, according to the Washington Times, Strasburg topped out at 99 mph on the radar gun.

He threw 99 last June, on his 94th and final pitch of a magical night.

I'm not saying that Tuesday will be as magical, or that it even could be. But I'll be back in Washington to see it, and more than that to feel it.

Will the buzz be back?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Strasburg underwent surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. He returns to the big leagues on Sept. 6, 2011, in Dodgers at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park. That's a fairly normal progression; Strasburg's teammate Jordan Zimmermann returned one year and seven days after he had Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann returned on the same day that Bryce Harper had his introductory press conference and Strasburg underwent an arthogram that showed he would need Tommy John surgery, too.

2. On Aug. 15, the Rangers had a four-game lead in the American League West, and that night they began a 23-game stretch in which they played every game against a team that (as of Sunday morning) had a record of .500 or better. The Rangers ended the weekend with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, and they'll end that tough stretch with Rangers at Rays, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. After that game, the Rangers will have 18 games left on their schedule, and only six of those 18 (three at home against the Indians, three in Anaheim against the Angels) will be against teams with winning records. So if the Angels want to catch up, this week (when they play three home games against the Mariners) could be crucial. It's an interesting pitching matchup for the Rangers Wednesday, with Derek Holland (seven shutout innings last Friday against the Red Sox) facing David Price (who threw eight shutout innings the last time he faced the Red Sox).

3. Last year, both the Phillies and the Braves made the playoffs, but when the teams met in two September series, it was obvious that the Braves were no match. They meet again this week, in a series that ends with Braves at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Once again, the Phillies have basically wrapped up the division title (which will be their fifth straight), and this time the Braves are far ahead in the wild-card race. This time, at least going in, the Braves seem a more competitive match for the Phils. But with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens both battling injuries, the Braves might need to rely more than they'd like on rookie Brandon Beachy, who starts Wednesday against Roy Oswalt (who the Phillies will be watching carefully).

Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:27 am
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:37 am

3 to Watch: The Verlander and the East edition

What's it worth to win the American League East?

Not as much as it would be if the Twins were winning the American League Central again.

The East winner will almost certainly play the Central winner in the first round of the playoffs. The East runner-up will be the wild card, and will play the Rangers.

And the complicating factor is Justin Verlander.

If the Tigers win the Central, they get the East winner in a best-of-5 series, with the possibility that Verlander could start twice. If he wins twice, the Tigers would need just one win in any of the other three games to advance.

That's exactly what happened in the first round last year. The East winner, the Rays, lost twice to Cliff Lee. The Rays won two of the other three games against the Rangers, but it wasn't enough.

Meanwhile, the wild-card Yankees swept past the Twins.

The Yankees always beat the Twins. They did it again Thursday night, their 20th win in their last 23 games against Minnesota, including sweeps in the last two Division Series.

The Red Sox have been nearly as good, with 15 wins in their last 21 games against the Twins.

The Twins don't have a Verlander, or anyone close. In the playoffs, the Twins have had no chance.

Maybe the Tigers wouldn't have a chance, either, even with Verlander. Maybe the Indians or the White Sox will get past the Tigers and win the Central (the Tigers lead the Indians by 1 1/2 games and the White Sox by four, with the Indians coming to Detroit this weekend).

Maybe it's worth it to win the East, anyway, because if the Yankees and Red Sox both advance to the American League Championship Series, the team that wins the division would have home-field advantage.


But it sure would be easier if the Twins were winning the Central.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Someone asked me the other day who starts Game 2 for the Yankees. My answer? Whoever looks best the last two weeks of the season. Maybe that could even be Phil Hughes, who starts Game 2 of this weekend's series, Yankees at Twins, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Target Field. Hughes' 6.55 ERA is the third-worst in the American League (minimum 40 innings) behind the Royals duo of Sean O'Sullivan and Kyle Davies. But Hughes has gone six innings in three straight starts (and four of the last five), allowing two runs or less each time.

2. The first round of the 2008 draft produced Buster Posey, who helped the Giants win the World Series. It produced Lonnie Chisenhall, Gordon Beckham, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, who are all part of this year's American League Central race. It produced Brett Lawrie, who the first-place Brewers traded to the Blue Jays to get Shaun Marcum. And it produced Wade Miley, the 24-year-old left-hander the first-place Diamondbacks called up when Jason Marquis broke his leg last Sunday. Miley, who grew up in Louisiana as a Braves fan, makes his big-league debut in Diamondbacks at Braves, Saturday afternoon (7:10 ET) at Turner Field. Miley will face Brandon Beachy, who was also eligible for that 2008 draft. He didn't go in the first round -- or any round -- and the Braves signed him as an undrafted free agent.

3. Tiger manager Jim Leyland reworked his rotation to make sure Verlander pitched against the Indians last week, and Verlander's win kept the Indians from a three-game sweep. Leyland chose not to rework his rotation again this week, and that means Rick Porcello will face Ubaldo Jimenez in Indians at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park. The Tigers are 14-9 with Porcello starting, but in 12 starts since June 12, Porcello has a 6.35 ERA. Verlander, who last pitched Tuesday (beating the Twins) is scheduled to start Monday night at Tampa Bay.

Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:54 pm

Beachy to be Braves' 5th starter, Jurrjens OK

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brandon Beachy will be the Braves' fifth starter.

That's assuming they don't need him to be the fourth starter.

Beachy won the spring competition over Mike Minor for the lone open spot in the Braves rotation, and Thursday morning the team told Minor he would be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, fourth starter Jair Jurrjens had to leave his start against the Blue Jays after just one inning, because of discomfort in his right side.

If that sounds ominous, Jurrjens insisted that it shouldn't. He said he's sure he'll be able to make his final spring start, next Tuesday in Atlanta against the Twins, and that he'll be ready for the season.

"It was just a little discomfort, and they didn't want me to make it worse," Jurrjens said. "If it was serious, I wouldn't have been able to pitch to another batter. If it was the oblique, I wouldn't be able to stand up."

Jurrjens said he felt the pain, which he described as more of a cramp, when he retired Yunel Escobar on a ground ball for the second out of the first inning. Jurrjens then struck out Jose Bautista to end the inning.

Jurrjens won 14 games for the Braves in 2009, but he was limited to 20 starts because of injuries last year.

The 24-year-old Beachy, who debuted with the Braves last September, has a 1.80 ERA in three official spring appearances, and also was impressive in a "B" game start against the Cardinals.

Minor, who was the seventh pick overall in the 2009 draft (and also debuted last year), had an 0.90 ERA in three spring appearances.

"We just feel Brandon gives us a better chance to win right now," general manager Frank Wren told MLB.com . "It was a tough decision to make."

Posted on: September 20, 2010 3:16 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:00 pm

Braves rookie to sub for injured Jurrjens

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are starting Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt against the Braves this week.

The Braves are starting 24-year-old Brandon Beachy tonight.

Beachy, who will be making his big-league debut, will sub for Jair Jurrjens, who was scratched after testing his sore right knee in the bullpen this afternoon. Jurrjens hurt his knee during a bullpen session Friday in New York.

"His knee's still bothering him, and it's not worth chancing it," manager Bobby Cox said. "He wasn't smiling too much. He still felt [the knee] on every pitch."

Cox said that Jurrjens was sent to Atlanta for an MRI exam on the knee. If everything checks out, the Braves are hopeful that Jurrjens will be able to make his next start.

"Maybe missing one start, he'll be super starting the last two," Cox said.

Beachy was with the Braves instructional league team in Florida, but he last pitched in a game on Sept. 3 with Triple-A Gwinnett. He split this year between Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi, going a combined 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA. He's quite a story, passed over in the draft after pitching at Indiana Wesleyan, signed out of a summer collegiate league for $20,000, then rising this year to become one of the Braves' top pitching prospects.

While pitching for Gwinnett, Beachy faced the Phillies' Lehigh Valley affiliate, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings. The Phillies had video of that start playing on their clubhouse televisions this afternoon.

The Braves begin the series three games behind the Phillies in the National League East, and 2 1/2 games ahead of the Padres in the wild-card race.

The Braves got one piece of good news today, when an MRI exam on reliever Takashi Saito's right shoulder showed nothing but tendinitis. Cox said the Braves believe Saito, who left Friday's game in New York thinking his season could be over, may be ready to pitch as soon as Wednesday.

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