The Braves BrainTrust of Wren and Cox need to make some additional moves and make them now.
Derek Lowe has a bone chip lodged in his elbow, has already missed missed a start and, very simply, cannot be relied upon at this time. Yes, he is a veteran and has a big contract, but, No!, he should not be allowed to make the crucial decision that he will "pitch through it" and thereby jeopardize our Championship Season.
If Lowey had been dealing ace-like prior to this setback, it might be different. However, he has regularly been performing at a substandard level, with a dismal 2-5 record, 4.77 ERA and 66 hits allowed in 54.2 inninings over his last ten starts, which is far from the ace-like dealing we are paying for and absolutely need to have.
Looking back a little further, MLB beat writer Mark Bowman has noted:
In the 15 starts Lowe had made before his right arm was essentially "worthless" (stole that description from Lowe), he was 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA. Opponents hit .271 and compiled a .336 on-base percentage during this span.
Enough! Disable Derek Lowe!
Backdating it to his 3 inning debacle on 8/29 would mean he will miss, at the least, his next two starts. So, who starts those games?
Kenshin Kawakami? No! He has clearly lost his mojo (or the Japanese equivalent) for whatever reason and, more importantly, seems to have entirely lost Bobby Cox's confidence. For Bobby to say the following about one of his players is almost unprecedented and - to me - a very clear sign:
“He just couldn’t get in a groove, to locate his pitches. He just never got in a rhythm tonight.”
“That’s the worst I’ve ever seen him.”
Frankly, given the way KK was allowed to languish in a dark and forgotten corner of the bullpen prior to being sent down to AAA, I would not at all be surprised to never see him pitch another inning in a Braves uniform.
But irrespective of all that, the simple fact is KK can not be relied upon at this critical juncture of our season any more so than the sore-armed and hopefully soon to be DL'ed DL. He's now 1-10 with a 5.11 ERA for the season. Just horrid.
Enough! No more starts for KK!
So, who is ready to step into the void?
The bold and obvious choice is: Brandon Beachy. Now!
To quote our superb minor league guru, cbwilk:
Brandon Beachy continues to surprise everyone, tossing 6 scoreless tonight while walking none and striking out 8. When he was dominating out of the bullpen for Mississippi it was easy to say he was getting lucky, when he was dominating as a starter for Mississippi it was easy to say it was a fluke, but after a full season of dominance at the 2 highest levels of the Minor Leagues, a 1.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 5.3 K/BB, 11.2 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9, it's impossible not to consider Beachy a prospect, and very good one at that.
Now, I am fully cognizant of the fact that running out a raw rookie in the pressure of a pennant race is not the way the Braves organization ordinarily likes to operate. But these are, most assuredly, not ordinary times.
We have 27 games left on the schedule. If we can hold off the Phils, we will have a very good shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a World Series berth. The urgency to Win Now! has never been greater.
Literally, every game is crucial.
Update (9/5, 1:35 PM):
Bowman: Lowe says he's ready to pitch.
This is no good.
I mean, he admits: "It's not like [the discomfort] has disappeared." And just a few days ago, he couldn't even play catch and for weeks, he's been brushing his teeth left-handed.
So, sure it is good that it feels somewhat better now, but this is because the nerve irritation and the swelling have diminished due to a cortisone shot and the small detail that he has not been throwing a baseball at game velocity.
The fact of the matter seems to be that a MRI has shown that the bone chip is lodged in a spot where it has caused and will presumably continue to cause significant nerve irritation; there's no reason to think the pathologic condition has resolved; and Lowe's performance has very obviously been suffering because of it. Logically, this will likely continue and Lowe's performance will continue to hurt the team if he is allowed to go back out there.
The fact that he's a warrior and willing to try to pitch through the pain is clear.
Equally clear is the team needs to just say No!