Atlanta Braves‘ middle reliever Scott Downs fractured his right hand Saturday when Chase Utley lined a ball right at Downs’ chest in the seventh-inning. While the pitcher is a left-handed thrower, Downs will need a healthy glove hand for fielding his position. After the impact on the mound, Downs raced toward first base to receive the toss from Freddie Freeman and retire Utley but he was beaten to the bag. That itself was an immediate indication that the injury wasn’t completely debilitating.
Downs has been an outstanding reliever for the Braves. He is the answer for the early losses they suffered to their bullpen when Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty left the season for Tommy John surgery. Without those players, the Braves only had one southpaw out of the bullpen to help combat left-handed hitters, Luis Avilan. With just one lefty, Fredi Gonzalez’s hands were often tied when trying to match up batters in opposing lineups.
The acquisition of Downs was yet another outstanding move by Braves’ general manager Frank Wren. He picked him up from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim back before the trade deadline to help supplement Avilan with specialty relief. Downs had only given up six earned runs in 43 appearances with Los Angeles, prompting Wren to pick him up from the non-contending Angels and plug him in with the already outstanding Braves’ bullpen.
Downs has been great for what the Braves need out of him. In 17 appearances he’s given up only three runs, posting a 2.31 earned run average. Without him, the Braves are back to just Avilan for left-handed relief which opens up holes in their bullpen. The recovery time-frame isn’t suspected to be very long, which is a real break for Atlanta since he will most certainly play a large role at some point in the playoffs.