"Thank God we signed Freddy Garcia."
That's what Braves general manager Frank Wren said after finding out about starter Kris Medlen's "forearm strain" on Monday.
Atlanta could be without Medlen for long time considering the fact that an MRI on his elbow showed "some involvement in the ligament," according to manager Fredi Gonzalez (via David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Medlen, 28, has already had Tommy John surgery once in his career -- he missed most of the 2011 season after the operation was performed in 2010.
If Medlen is forced to undergo the procedure again, he might never be the same. Several pitchers have recovered from Tommy John once, but the list of guys who have bounced back from a second TJS is pretty short.
Joakim Soria is attempting to become one of the few players to resurrect his post-TJS career for a second time, but he probably won't ever be the same dominant force he was as the Royals closer from 2007 to 2011. If he does, however, it'd be a good sign for Medlen.
After soaring through the 2012 season with a 1.57 ERA, Medlen anchored Atlanta's rotation last year. In 197 innings, he posted a 3.11 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP and walked just 47 batters over that span.
Without him, the Braves will likely turn to Garcia. The 37-year-old veteran was signed for just this kind of unfortunate surprise. Last season, he put up a 1.65 ERA in 27⅓ innings toward the end of the year, but he's not likely to reproduce those numbers in
The recently extended Julio Teheran will function as the team's ace, and they hope to get a solid year out of Mike Minor as well -- though he's currently recovering form a ... groin injury. Atlanta also figures to lean on young pitchers like Alex Wood and David Hale (and perhaps, Aaron Northcraft or Cody Martin) to take the hill with some regularity.
Brandon Beachy is recovering from tightness in his biceps at the moment, but if he can return to the rotation this season, the Braves would be in a much better position. Free agent signing Gavin Floyd could push his way into the conversation as well, but he's working his way back from his own Tommy John surgery -- which was performed last May.