Former UGA star Alex Wood, 22, will make his second major league start in a series finale against the Mets on Thursday. Wood replaces Paul Maholm, who went to the 15-day DL over the weekend.
ATLANTA — Braves pitcher Paul Maholm is going on the disabled list with a sprained wrist and rookie Alex Wood, the former University of Georgia star, is coming back to the majors to take his spot in the starting rotation Thursday.
Wood, 22, will make his second major league start in a series finale against the Mets, the same team he faced in the second game of a June 18 doubleheader in Atlanta. That was a spot start in which the former Bulldogs left-hander gave up two hits, one run and three walks in three innings, with five strikeouts.
The other option to replace Maholm was Brandon Beachy, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves want Beachy to get another minor-league rehab start as he completes his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery. He’s 13 months into rehab, which was halted for two weeks in June when Beachy developed inflammation in the elbow.
Gonzalez said the Braves haven’t decided who’ll make the second and third rotation turns that Maholm will miss before he’s eligible to return from the DL. He said the Braves would like to get five or six innings out of Wood on Thursday.
“It’s his second start in the big leagues; I think he’ll be more comfortable,” Gonzalez said. “That first start, he had (73) pitches. I think this one will be a more comfortable start. And I don’t know how many Georgia Bulldog fans are here in New York, so maybe that will calm him down a little. They all came out to watch him start that day.”
Wood was a dominant starter at Double-A Mississippi before getting called up to help out Atlanta’s bullpen. In 10 starts at Mississippi, he had a 1.26 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 14 walks in 57 innings.
He had a 2.37 ERA in 15 relief appearances for the Braves, with 21 strikeouts and five walks in 19 innings, then was sent to Triple-A on July 13 to pitch more innings and get “stretched out” to be a starter again, if needed.
Wood won his first Triple-A start last Thursday, working five innings and allowing three hits, one run, two walks and two hit batters, with five strikeouts. He threw 46 strikes in 71 pitches.
Maholm flew back to Atlanta on Sunday and had an MRI on Monday on his left wrist. It showed no fracture, but the lefty had some swelling. He will be DL’d on Thursday, retroactive to Sunday, the day after he blew a 4-0 lead against the White Sox and gave up seven runs and seven hits in three-plus innings.
If the Braves need to make a roster move, they will DL Maholm sooner and make a roster move, then make another when Wood is brought up Thursday.
After going 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA in his first 10 starts this season, Maholm is 3-5 with a 5.53 ERA in his past 10, including 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA in three July starts.
He hurt the wrist batting during his July 10 start at Miami, and said it didn’t flare up again until he was warming up before the fourth inning Saturday.
LOE CALLED UP: Kameron Loe's coast-to-coast traveling show made its third major league stop of 2013 when the Braves purchased the veteran pitcher's contract from Triple-A Gwinnett and flew him to Chicago.
“Good to be here,” said Loe, a 6-foot-8 right-hander who struggled with Seattle and the Chicago Cubs this season before being released and signing a minor-league deal with the Braves.
He pitched well at Gwinnett — 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 21 games, including four starts — and was brought up to provide a fresh bullpen arm for the Braves, who were down a reliever after David Carpenter worked three innings Saturday.
“Feeling good, throwing the ball well,” Loe said. “Getting a bunch of ground balls, feeling healthy, ready to go.”
The Braves had gone with a six-man bullpen instead of their usual seven since sending lefty Wood to Gwinnett on July 13, when they brought up Jose Constanza after losing three starting outfielders to injuries in a two-day span.
Knowing that Carpenter would be unavailable Sunday, they summoned Loe, 31, from Triple-A.
With one previously injured outfielder (Justin Upton) back in the lineup since Friday and another (Jason Heyward) returning Monday, the Braves optioned utility player Tyler Pastornicky to Gwinnett to open a roster spot.
Reliever Eric O'Flaherty, out for the season after elbow surgery, was moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Loe.
“(Pastornicky) needs to go down and keep playing,” Gonzalez said. “Sitting on the bench is not helping his development. He'll go down and continue playing all those positions — second base, shortstop, the outfield. Keep moving him around.”
Former Gwinnett teammate Constanza stood on a chair Sunday morning to give the towering Loe a welcoming hug.
Loe is huge, but not a hard thrower, working in the 88-92 mph range with his fastball. He's a sinker/slider pitcher who also throws a four-seam fastball, cutter and changeup, though he doesn't break out the changeup often as a reliever.
He has a 33-41 record and 4.46 ERA in 313 games (47 starts) in nine seasons with the Rangers, Brewers, Cubs and Mariners. He had a 10.80 ERA in 11 games (four starts) with the Mariners and Cubs this season, allowing 13 earned runs and nine homers in 15 innings.
“There was obviously a couple of things I needed to do to get straight,” Loe said. “I gave up nine home runs in April — pretty bad. My stuff was flat, and I had to make a couple of adjustments, but I've been feeling good lately.”
BJ UPDATE: B.J. Upton (strained right adductor muscle) jogged on the field Monday but isn’t likely to return from the 15-day disabled list when eligible on Sunday. Upton was placed on the disabled list July 14 (retroactive to July 13) but has yet to begin baseball-related activities. Jason Heyward will play center field in Upton’s place and saved the game Monday, when he made a diving catch for the final out of the Braves’ 2-1 victory.
TEHERAN STAYS STEADY: Teheran pitched well in a no-decision Monday night when he allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out six over six innings vs. the Mets. Teheran, who allowed a triple to Marlon Byrd and an RBI single to Ike Davis on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning, was in line for the loss before the Braves rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth inning. Teheran is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA and has recorded a quality start in 12 of his 19 starts.