Posted: 5:35 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Rough day for Braves bullpen candidate Gearrin 

By David O'Brien

JUPITER, Fla. – It was a rough afternoon for Braves relief candidate Cory Gearrin, who was charged with five hits and six runs (five earned) while recording just one out in the seven-run sixth inning of Thursday’s 11-0 loss to the Cardinals.

He gave up a one-out single before first baseman Ernesto Mejia made an errant throw to second base on a fielder’s choice. Gearrin gave up hits to the next four batters, including Xavier Scrubbs’ double that drove in the third, fourth and fifth runs of the inning and ended the sidearmer’s outing.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t think the Braves would’ve turned a double play if Mejia had made a good throw, but that they would’ve at least gotten one out there.

He added, “You know what? The good ones get out of the inning and help themselves and the club along the way, not put a big number up (on the scoreboard).”

Gearrin allowed six total hits and three runs in 7-1/3 innings in six appearances before Thursday, for a 3.68 ERA and .200 opponents’ average, with two walks and seven strikeouts. He’s competing for one of the final spots in the bullpen and is out of minor-league options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minor leagues without first clearing waivers.

The only certainties for opening-day bullpen spots appear to be closer Craig Kimbrel, left-hander Luis Avilan, and right-handers Jordan Walden, David Carpenter and Anthony Varvaro, who is also out of options. That would leave two spots, and the health of the starting rotation will likely affect how those are filled.

Would-be opening day starter Kris Medlen is expected to have season-ending Tommy John surgery, and fellow starters Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor are questionable for at least the first week or two of the season. The Braves will likely avoid rushing newly signed starter Ervin Santana into the rotation until perhaps the second week of the season.

Gavin Floyd is completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery and expected back in May.

That means that Alex Wood and Freddy Garcia, who came into camp competing for one rotation spot, are both penciled in to join opening-day starter Julio Teheran in the rotation to begin the season. Garcia has struggled in his past two starts including Thursday (four innings, six hits, three earned runs).

As things stand now, the rotation for at least the first week would include rookie David Hale, who could move to the bullpen as a long reliever/spot starter after the Braves get a couple of their other starters back.

The Braves could pick a second left-hander from a group of four who’ve impressed this spring: Ryan Buchter, Ian Thomas, Daniel Rodriguez and Atahualpo Severino. Of that foursome, only Buchter is on the 40-man roster.

Among the other right-handers in the mix are Juan Jaime and sidearmers Luis Vasquez, who has pitched in only two games after missing a few weeks of camp for visa issues and a lat strain, and Gus Schlosser, who has five strikeouts and two hits allowed in 5-1/3 scoreless innings.

Because the Braves have off days in the schedule April 3 after a three-game opening series at Milwaukee and April 7 after a three-game series at Washington, they can go with only four starters without having any pitch on short rest until April 12 against the Nationals, the 11th game of the season.

Santana is expected back before then, but it’s not known when Minor or Beachy will be. Beachy had tests on his arm this week but the Braves haven’t provided an update, other than to say on Tuesday that they didn’t think his was a serious injury.

However, anytime there’s an injury near the elbow for a pitcher still trying to come back from two elbow surgeries in a 15-month span, as Beachy is, there is always some concern and no way to know when Beachy might be fully recovered and injury-free.

11 comments
MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

I think that outing just showed that he has no trade value and will have to be cut. 

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

I know Gearrin is out of options so it is either trade or release time after yesterday's appearance or should I say disappearance of the ball from Cardinal Hitters into the outfield! 

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

Gearrin is on borrowed time.  He's done an outstanding job making Fredi's decision easier on whether to keep him or not with every appearance.  Gearrin was a real long shot before ST began anyway, but the only prayer he has now is if the guys who have pitched well like Jaime, Schlosser, Rodriguez, and Thomas all have massive collapses these last 2 weeks and pitch just as poorly as he has.

BrianSTL
BrianSTL

It is actually Xavier Scruggs, not Scrubbs. He is a legit power threat and a good OBP guy. Nice try though.

Teddy_B
Teddy_B

Xavier Scrubbs?!?!?! LOL!!! That has got to be THE worst baseball name I ever heard of!!!! Beats Melky Cabrera by a MILE when you consider that a scrub is defined as a 'no name' generic type of player with not much of a future.


Wow, I never even heard of that guy. I'd change my last name if I were him though. I'd even think about changing my first name because every 'Xavier' I've ever heard of never amounted to much so they were pretty much 'scrubs' LOL

1995oneyearwonder
1995oneyearwonder

no update on Beachy is suspicious. can't be positive.

the only lefty that has pitched well in the bullpen of those 4 has been Thomas.


Graham had a shoulder strain but missed most of last year. another pitcher with injury issues. he may end up in bullpen at Gwinett now.


I don't see any other team with so many pitching injuries. bring abck Mazzone and the prior coniditoning coaches.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Dave,

Where does J. R. Graham stand with all of this?  Don Sutton is very high on his potential.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Beachy's the key and the only true candidate on this team to be classified as an ace.  However, aces don't max out in the high 80's and Beachy is a "power pitcher."  

When he's maxing out at 94-95 he's a #1 on most teams; when he's maxing out 5-6 mph lower than this he's a #4 or #5 on most teams unless/until he develops several other effective pitches to become more of a junk pitcher than a power pitcher.

And how many World Series Winnners can you name without a true #1 and #2 starter?

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

@BrianSTL

Nice try?....Tell Bradley, he is the one who wrote the article and spelled it Scrubbs......who would know but a Phillies fan?

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

@BrianSTL Sorry....this is a DOB article I see....no excuse for David.....so much for proof readers....