Paul Maholm left his start on Saturday with a sprained left (throwing) wrist, and when he did so, the writing was on the wall for a potential change in the Atlanta Braves rotation. On Monday, that reality was confirmed when Maholm was placed on the 15-day disabled list as a result of the injury, and the team announced that rookie left-hander Alex Wood would claim his rotation spot beginning on Thursday.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Maholm this season, as he began the 2013 campaign with three consecutive scoreless outings, but in recent days, his ERA has ballooned to a less than stellar 4.41 for the year on the back of poor performance. With that said, there was significant buzz about Maholm (or Kris Medlen) being relieved of his rotation duties, and the injury simply made the decision easy for the Braves’ front office staff.
As far as Wood is concerned, the future appears very bright for the 22-year-old former University of Georgia standout. Thursday’s outing will be just the second start of Wood’s career (he was injected as a spot starter in a double-header earlier in the year), but he has had success in the Majors out of the bullpen this year. In 22 innings, he has posted a sparkling 2.45 ERA (1.78 FIP) and a massive strikeout rate of 10.64 K/9. In addition, Wood has put up impressive minor league numbers (ERA under 2.00 in over 100 innings), and has a pedigree as a former top pick of the Braves.
It is too early to speculate on a “permanent” place in rotation for Wood, but if he performs well, there is reason to believe that Frank Wren, Fredi Gonzalez, and company will leave him in the rotation for the remainder of the year. As for Maholm, he will potentially end up on the trading block over the next week or so before returning to possible competition with Medlen, Wood, and possibly Brandon Beachy for a starting spot.
One thing is for sure in Atlanta, however, and that is that a team can never have enough starting pitching.