The Atlanta Braves could lose another starting pitcher to a second Tommy John surgery as Brandon Beachy is now scheduled to undergo further evaluation on his elbow. Kris Medlen is facing the same diagnosis as the duo gets prepared to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution passed along word of the latest potential setback for a Braves rotation that was among the best in baseball last season:

Kevin McAlpin of the Braves Radio Network provided comments from the 27-year-old starter, who now faces the potential of going through another long and arduous recovery process:

Beachy has only made 18 starts over the past two seasons due to his first Tommy John procedure. When healthy he’s been a bright spot for Atlanta with a 3.23 career ERA over 46 starts with 275 strikeouts in 267.2 innings.

He was forced leave his last start in spring training early due to discomfort in his right biceps. Initially, it was thought the issue was minor and related to getting back to full strength. O’Brien notes the right-hander was told the ligament was sound:

Apparently, that might not have been the case after all. So now he’ll get checked out by Andrews along with Medlen early next week to see if both pitchers need to go through the Tommy John process again, as Mark Bowman of reported:

Bowman also provided some of Beachy’s thoughts on his recent x-ray:

The Braves entered spring with plenty of depth for the rotation, but two key injuries would cause that leeway to get eliminated right away. Medlen and Beachy were both expected to play prominent roles as the team looked to defend its NL East title.

Freddy Garcia and Alex Wood, who entered the year battling for a rotation spot, are now both likely locks for the starting five to open the season. David Hale could also get called upon to make some starts in the early going.

The team also signed Ervin Santana to a one-year contract to bolster the rotation. Since he got a late start after sitting on the free-agent market for awhile, it’s unclear exactly when he’ll be ready to take the mound for regular-season action.

ESPN provided an updated look at the situation the Braves face:

With Opening Day less than three weeks away, the only healthy members of the Braves’ projected rotation are second-year pitchers Julio Teheran (14-8 last season) and Alex Wood, rookie David Hale and non-roster invitee Freddy Garcia. Atlanta also signed veteran Gavin Floyd, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready to pitch until at least May.

As for Beachy, his future becomes a lot more murky if he’s indeed forced to undergo another Tommy John procedure. Coming back from that once is tough enough, but doing it twice while also returning to top form is a major challenge.

The Braves should be able to weather the storm and remain competitive in the division assuming they don’t face any other key losses to the rotation. But their margin for error certainly becomes a lot thinner if Beachy and Medlen both miss the entire campaign.

It’s not the way Atlanta wanted things to go with Opening Day still a couple weeks away.


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