The Atlanta Braves’ Brandon Beachy will make his return to the mound tonight against the Houston Astros. This will not only be Beachy’s first start of Spring Training, but his first time in live action since undergoing a second elbow surgery on September 26 of last year.
Leading the league with 2.00 ERA going into the 2012 All-Star Break, Beachy underwent reconstructive surgery on his right (throwing) elbow and was subsequently shelved for the remainder of the season. When he returned to the starting rotation on July 29, 2013, it was clear he had not fully recovered. His pinpoint accuracy was not there, and his velocity was down 2-3 MPH.
As a result, Beachy struggled. In five starts from July 29 to August 20, he went 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA. After the fifth start it was revealed that he was experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow once again and would have another operation to clean out what was suspected to be some scar tissue, thus ending his return campaign before it really got underway.
Tonight could well mark the beginning of Beachy’s return to form. He won’t go more than 2 innings and will likely be capped off at about 40 pitches, but how he looks and feels (not fares – results don’t really matter in Spring Training, especially not at this juncture) will go a long way in telling us just how close he is to being the ace he was in first half of 2012.
Also of note, Tommy LaStella will get the start at second base in tonight’s game. Many, myself among them, expect LaStella to make a real impression this spring. The exact opposite of Dan Uggla, LaStella epitomizes what it means to be a contact hitter – he rarely strikes out and has hit .327 over his minor league career. I expect him to do well, and if he does well enough he just might earn a spot on the big league roster to start the year.