Tuesday morning, starter Kevin Gausman tossed four innings in a minor league game at the Braves complex in Central Florida. Gausman allowed one run on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts and threw 58 pitches over that span. In that contest, Gausman was facing Atlanta’s Double and Triple A players as he tries to ramp things up to be ready for the start of the regular season. As of a week and a half ago, Gausman felt like he would have plenty of time to get the innings needed, but as of Tuesday afternoon, it seems like he’s running out of days on the calendar.
Most starters get up close to 100 pitches over the span of five or six spring outings, but this was only the third start for Gausman, who was slowed with a sore right shoulder in the early portions of camp. With the injury to Folty, it seemed to make sense that the Braves would open the first series in Philly with Teheran, Newcomb and Gausman, but Kevin could be pushed back to the first homestand with the Cubs and Marlins to get more time to build up to the seven inning, one hundred pitch mark.
If Gausman isn’t ready, it would likely fall on either Kyle Wright or Max Fried to make one of those starts in the opening series in Philadelphia. And Brian Snitker has already pointed out the Phillies righty-heavy lineup, so that could indicate Kyle Wright having an inside track to get the nod on Sunday Night Baseball on March 31. Right now, the Atlanta pitching staff has more questions than answers. We don’t know when Foltynewicz will ready, but late April or early May seems realistic. Same can be said about Mike Soroka. As far as AJ Minter is concerned, we could see him in the middle of the month of April. But, with Darren O’Day still being listed as “no throw” it’s anyone’s guess as to when his forearm will allow him to get back on a mound. So, opportunities are there for a number of young pitchers. And based on what we’ve already seen from guys like Wright, Toussaint, Fried and Wilson, the club feels good about the guys who could hold the fort until the injured arms are back to one hundred percent.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioN